New car registrations in the UK were up 2.0% in April, according to figures published today (May 6) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Car registrations totalled 189,505 – the most in April since 2003, when 194,312 new vehicles were sold.

The SMMT reported that as in March, the market growth in April was led by the fleet and business sectors, where increases of 6.1% and 2.8% counterbalanced a 2.5% fall in private registrations.

Registrations of petrol cars increased 3.4% in April, while diesel saw a slight 0.6% decline. Following the trend set in the first three months of the year, uptake of alternative fuel vehicles jumped by 26.8%.

April’s performance puts registrations for 2016 to date 4.4% up on the same period last year. It follows a bumper March in which more than 518,000 cars were registered – the second-biggest month on record.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After such a strong March, April’s steadier performance was to be anticipated, and is in line with our expectations for the year. Consumer confidence remains high as buyers continue to capitalise on attractive finance deals, although this could be affected by political and economic uncertainty in the coming months.”

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: “We are pleased to see that in spite of following a record breaking March, demand for new cars continued its upward trend. It is also encouraging to see that alternative fuel vehicles remained strong with a growth of 26.8%.

“The UK economy has repeatedly recorded positive trends for the past 15 months with a 0.4% increase in the first quarter of 2016, and we are pleased to see that on the back of this the car market has continued to make its relevant contribution.”