There were 450,000 new cars registered in Q1 2015 with digital radio as standard, an increase of 100,000 on Q1 2014, according to CAP/SMMT.
In the past year, nearly 1.5 million new cars registered in the UK have had digital radio fitted as standard.
In Q1 2015 the percentage of all cars sold with digital radio as standard was 61.1%. This compares to 50.4% in Q1 2014 and 35.4% in Q1 2013.
The increase in digital radio in new cars comes as UK new car sales have rebounded to reach new levels. Overall, new car registrations for March 2015 were a record 492,774, of which 302,000 came with DAB as standard.
Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT, hailed March 2015 as "the best month this century for new car registrations".
The top selling car in the UK remains the Ford Fiesta which sold almost 40,000 new cars in Q1 2015. Ford has confirmed that in May 2015 the Fiesta will introduce digital radio as standard across most of its models in the UK, including the best-selling Fiesta Zetec, which means that 90% of all Fiesta sales will have digital radio as standard.
Five of the top 20 selling car brands in the UK (Audi, BMW, Mini, Land Rover and Jaguar) now have digital radio as standard in 100% of their models and a further eight (Ford, Vauxhall, VW, Nissan, Mercedes, Toyota, Citroen and Skoda) have digital radio as standard in the majority of all models.
The key factor behind the widespread adoption of digital radio as standard in UK cars has been the Government policy of planning for a future radio switchover, which has prompted the expansion of National BBC DAB coverage to 97% and the expansion of local DAB coverage to 91% (comparable with commercial radio FM coverage).
A further factor for vehicle manufacturers has been the increase in digital listening with the success of BBC and commercial digital-only stations and the announcement of the launch of 15 digital stations on the D2 National network in Q1 2016.
Radio remains the prime source of entertainment in car with 61% of all adults listening in the car. Around a fifth (22.2%) of radio listening takes place in car.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “Digital radio in car is on a roll – 450,000 new cars with digital radio in a single quarter is a significant milestone, and the introduction of DAB across most models of the UK’s best-selling car will ensure the growth of digital radio in car continues.”
Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, added: “We are delighted to see the ongoing growth of new car registrations and the continuing drive to digital. The great progress being made by manufacturers in the line-fitment of digital radio - and the introduction of new products in the aftermarket - demonstrates the importance the automotive sector attaches to this technology.”