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UK car sales resume slide as Brexit hits buffers
[LONDON] New car sales in Britain dropped in October after a brief rise, as consumers slammed the brakes on purchases once more with Brexit hitting the buffers, industry data showed Tuesday.
Sales slid 6.7 per cent last month compared with Oct 2018, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.
Car sales had edged up 1.3 per cent year-on-year in September, a month when purchases of UK vehicles traditionally gain traction owing to the release of new licence plates.
The renewed drop in new car sales in October "reflects continued uncertainty over diesel and clean air zones, stunted economic growth and uncertainty over Brexit", the SMMT said Tuesday.
Sales of high-polluting diesel cars have fallen sharply in recent times, also as buyers switch to cleaner electric and hybrid vehicles.
"The growth in alternatively-fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies," SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said in the statement.
"The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year's eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.
"Whether the general election delivers a 'bounce' to the economy remains to be seen," he added.
Britain's parliament failed to approve the country's exit from the European Union by a deadline of Oct 31.
With MPs unwilling to back the government's divorce deal struck with Brussels, and with Prime Minister Boris Johnson deciding against a 'no-deal' Brexit, Britain will now go to the polls on Dec 12 in a general election.
And it is hoped that a new government will finally be able to resolve the Brexit deadlock - and hand a boost to Britain's key car sector.
The country's car manufacturing industry is dominated by foreign companies exporting the bulk of new vehicles to Europe.
Since January, total new car sales have dropped 2.9 per cent, the SMMT added Tuesday.
"New car sales have been driven down by a number of roadblocks - business and consumer caution over making major purchases, sharply reduced demand for diesel cars amid environmental concerns and stricter emission regulations," said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club research group.