The number of new cars sold in 2009 registered only a 6.4% fall compared with 2008's figures, it has been announced.
With a rise in sales during December and boosted by the Government's car-scrappage scheme, 1,994,999 new vehicles were registered in 2009, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
This was the lowest end-of-the-year figure since 1995, but is well above the SMMT's expectations.
The Government introduced the "cash-for-bangers" scrappage scheme in May which has contributed to more than a fifth of new registrations in 2009 and above 20% of the December market.
Around 38.9% more vehicles were sold in December 2009 compared with those in the same month in 2008, the third best December sales on record, and the highest since 2005.
Sales were lower by 26% in the first half of last year, but they rose 21% between June and December 2009.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said today: "Sustaining the progress made in the latter part of 2009 will require stronger demand from fleet and business buyers, alongside the greater availability and affordability of credit and finance."
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