By Jonathan Davies

The number of new cars sold in the UK in 2014 hit its highest level since 2004 and the fourth largest ever total, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said there were 2,476,435 new cars sold in the UK, 9.3% higher than in 2013.

Only sales in 2002, 2003, and 2004 have been stronger than in 2014. Every month saw growth, with December's 8.7% increase marking the 34th consecutive month of growth.

The annual rise seen in the UK was much stronger than the EU average, where domestic sales grew by 5.7%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “UK new car registrations returned to pre-recession levels in 2014, as pent-up demand from the recession years combined with confidence in the economy saw consumer demand for the latest models grow consistently and strongly.

“The year was particularly strong for alternatively-fuelled vehicles as increased choice, coupled with a growing desire for reduced costs and greater efficiency, resulted in a quadrupling of plug-in car registrations over 2013. With a variety of new plug-in models expected in 2015, this area of the market will continue to grow significantly. For the market as a whole, we expect a more stable 2015 as demand levels off.”

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