By Jonathan Davies

New car sales got off to a strong start to 2015 in January, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

New car registrations, which indicate sales, were up 6.7% to 164,856 in January, the strongest start to a year since 2007.

It marked a 35th consecutive month of growth for new car sales in the UK, adding to the current record.

There was an 18.1% rise in the number of company cars registered, compared with January 2014. And the number of alternatively fuelled cars was up 60.8% to 4,598.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These figures mark an encouraging start to the year after a very strong 2014, with a strikingly robust company car market as businesses take advantage of the attractive finance offers currently available.

“January saw increased uptake of both petrol and diesel cars, while demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles continued its surge with registrations rising by 60.8%. Registrations of plug-in vehicles were particularly strong as consumers responded to a greater choice of makes and models delivering lower running costs.

“Last year’s 9.3% rise in the overall market was fuelled by stronger than expected economic confidence and, for 2015, we expect to see some levelling off throughout the year: demand is back to pre-recession levels following record-breaking growth.”

Chris Sutton, Managing Director of Black Horse, said: "The overall UK car market continues to be a beacon of success with both consumers and businesses demonstrating a clear willingness to purchase new cars. Manufacturers and dealers also believe that low rate finance has helped to sell new cars so we expect this to continue and this will be helped by the expectation that interest rates will rise at a later date than previously expected."

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