March marked the 13th consecutive month of growth in new car registrations, the SMMT has revealed.
The number of registrations grew by 5.9% in March, with 394,806 registrations of 13-plate cars, and by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year.
Volumes are the highest since 2010 when the Scrappage Incentive Scheme was in place.
“UK new car registrations out-performed expectations in March, the first month of the new 13-plate. The market increased more than 5% on March 2012 to almost 395,000 units,” said SMMT interim chief executive, Mike Baunton.
Sales in the first quarter were better than expected, which could support net growth in the market this year.
Mr Baunton continued: “Despite ongoing economic concerns, consistent monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence as motorists are attracted to forecourts by new models and the latest technologies.”
Growth was also reported in the CV market, while sales of trucks, buses and coaches continued to decline.