The UK market for new cars rose by 1.6% to 469,696 units in September for the highest on record, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The total number of cars registered so far in 2016 reached 2,150,495 units, up 2.6% compared to last year, and only the second time 2m units has been achieved since 2004.

Fleet registrations grew 7.3%, while private registrations experienced a decline of 1.7% to 223,844 units in September.

The different fuel types saw divergent results, with diesel registrations up 2.8% while units powered by petrol fell 1.1%. Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose 32.6% against September 2015, reaching a market share of 3.4%.

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), stated that the change to the 66-plate had increased consumer confidence, and she expected stabilisation in the market.

Robinson said: “The plate change has certainly helped boost consumers’ confidence and we should not be surprised to see some signs of stabilisation in the next months.”

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Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, also warned that this level of demand is not certain to continue, particularly amid political uncertainty.

Hawes said: “Business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite.”