NEW car sales improved again last month, helped by the popularity of a North-East vehicle.

New figures show 72,163 cars were registered in August.

The number was a 9.4 per cent increase on the same time last year and the 30th consecutive month of growth.

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The figures, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), added August's sales took the year-to-date total to more than 1.53 million.

According to a report, the Sunderland-made Nissan Qashqai was one of the best sellers.

It said the Ford Fiesta was the most popular car last month, followed by the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "The UK's performance in the context of Europe is particularly impressive, with growth consistently ahead of the rest of the EU for the past two years."

Earlier this week, The Northern Echo confirmed work at Nissan's Sunderland factory had fully restarted after a temporary shutdown last month.

Problems in its press shop, which makes body parts, and maintenance work took longer than expected.

Production started again last week on Line One, which makes the Qashqai and all-electric Leaf, with Line Two, where the Juke and Note models are made, resuming this week.

The halt is believed to be the biggest unplanned stoppage in the plant’s 30-year history.

The company expects to make 500,000 cars in Sunderland for a third consecutive year, which will be a record for the UK car industry.