Strongest January for new car sales since 2007 – and three out of four private buyers now use finance.

New car registrations grew 6.7% last month to 164,856, according to the latest figures from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“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%,” said the SMMIT’S Mike Hawes.

“Registrations of plug-in vehicles were particularly strong as consumers responded to a greater choice of makes and models delivering lower running costs,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) has revealed that there were almost 900,000 finance deals in 2014 – a new record for dealer finance in the UK and a 13% rise over 2013.