LONDON (Reuters) - British new car sales fell for the fifth month in a row in August, the longest run of declines since 2011, a car industry body said on Tuesday, as uncertainty over Brexit and possible levies on diesel cars hit Europe’s second-biggest market.
Sales fell by an annual 6.4 percent to 76,433 vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with demand among businesses and individuals both slumping.
Diesel car registrations fell by 21.3 percent, whilst petrol sales rose 3.8 percent in a further sign that uncertainty over possible government-imposed penalties on the most polluting vehicles is putting off buyers.
But SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said he expected demand to remain strong in September, which accounts for some 15 percent of annual sales as it is one of only two occasions each year when a new licence plate series is introduced to indicate the age of a vehicle.
“With the new 67-plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand,” Hawes said.
Several carmakers, representing around three-quarters of the market, have launched trade-in and scrappage schemes in recent weeks which should help to support the September selling month.
The SMMT expects full-year registrations to end the year down nearly 4 percent at 2.59 million units from 2.69 million in 2016, which was a record high.
Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Andy Bruce and Louise Heave