THE steady advance of new car sales is continuing, with a North-East vehicle key to the growth.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says there were 228,291 new registrations in June.

That was a 6.2 per cent rise compared to the same time last year., with the Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai a major seller.

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The report added last month was also the 28th consecutive month of growth, meaning sales for the year so far have reached more than 1.28 million.

It said total new car sales are likely to reach 2.4 million in 2014, up more than six per cent on last year.

The best-selling car was the Ford Fiesta, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Nissan's Qashqai, which the Japanese firm re-launched last year, was sixth on the list.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Improving economic conditions have helped propel the UK new car market to a strong first half-year performance.

"Key to attracting consumers is the ever-improving efficiency of new cars, an important factor that is highlighted by the increase in alternatively-fuelled vehicle registrations.

"The overall market has risen faster than we were expecting but, after a bumper March, growth is showing signs of stabilising around our forecast level."