UK consumers purchased 180,111 new vehicles in May, marking a robust 11-percent climb from the same month last year. This volume outperformed sales in May 2007, before the subprime mortgage meltdown precipitated by U.S. and British banks sent the global economy into retreat, suggesting that UK consumers are growing more confident.

This was the 15th consecutive month of growth, according to the monthly sales report by the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that was released on Thursday; however, new vehicles sales for the first five months of the year are still down 9.2 percent from the same period in 2007.

Noncommercial vehicle sales were up considerably.

“The performance of new car registrations in May marks a significant milestone for UK automotive, with cars registered by private buyers rising more than 20 percent, bettering prerecession volumes posted in 2007,” Mike Baunton, the trade association’s interim chief executive, said.

Commercial new vehicle sales fell 4.7 percent year-over-year in May, but for the year-to-date sales ticked up 8.3 percent, giving mixed signals about the direction of commercial purchases for the rest of the year. Truck sales – an important measure of confidence in the private sector’s logistics segment -- were off 14.3 percent compared to a year ago.

Two other pieces of UK-related auto news came out this week:

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) won the 2013 International Engine of the Year award for its 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine, which was designed at Ford’s research facilities in Dunton and Dagenham, UK. Engine Technology International magazine polled 87 automotive journalists worldwide, and the engine received the highest score in the award’s 15-year history.

British parts manufacturer Stadco Automotive Ltd. is investing £15 million ($23.2 million) into its Telford, UK-based facility to install one of Europe’s largest transfer presses – a metal stamping machine – that can pound out four parts at a time for a rate of 3,200 engine parts an hour.

The move comes as Stadco is reporting more “high-value contracts” that require increased production. The new assembly component will be online by the end of next year.