UK new car sales rise more than 10 pct to 5-year high in 2013 - SMMT

LONDON Mon Jan 6, 2014 7:01pm EST

LONDON Jan 7 (Reuters) - British new car sales grew by more than 10 percent last year to hit a five-year high, bucking a gloomy trend in most of the rest of Europe, industry figures are expected to show later on Tuesday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders releases 2013 car sales figures at 0900 GMT. But in a briefing late on Monday, it said it expected them to exceed its forecast of 2.25 million and be up by more than 10.5 percent on the year.

British car sales have grown strongly in recent years, in a trend that pre-dated last year's rapid economic recovery, and in 2012 Britain overtook France as Europe's second-biggest new car market after Germany.

However the SMMT expects sales growth to be slower in 2014, with total sales close to 2013 levels.

Ford was Britain's top-selling manufacturer for most of 2013, enjoying success with its Fiesta supermini and mid-sized Focus models, followed by General Motors' rival Vauxhall Corsa and Astra.

Volkswagen, Nissan and BMW also enjoyed strong sales.

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