A NORTH-EAST car maker has supported the UK’s strongest growth in new vehicle sales for ten years.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said new car registrations hit 194,032 last month, which were the highest sales for May since 2004.

The figures were helped by Sunderland’s Nissan, which recorded 4,144 sales of its North-East made Qashqai in May, and has seen more than 20,000 sales this year.

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According to a report, Nissan has so far recorded 10,151 new registrations in 2014, putting its market share just behind rivals Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

The best-selling vehicle was the Ford Fiesta, with 9,450 sales in May, and 58,940 for the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said the new car market had now grown in every month since March 2012, which is the longest period of growth on record.

Nissan makes about 300,000 Qashqais at its Wearside plant every year, more than half of the site’s total output.