UK car sales hit skids again: data

February 5, 2019
British car sales didn't do too well in January, except for e-cars and hybrids

British new car sales slid in January from a year earlier, as weak demand for high-polluting diesel overshadowed a surge for electric-powered vehicles, industry data showed Tuesday.

New registrations for all cars dipped 1.6 percent in January year-on-year to just over 161,000 vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement.

However, sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid models soared by 26 percent amid a broader government push for cleaner transport.

The industry nevertheless experiencing weaker demand for diesel cars—which face tighter regulation worldwide.

Overall sales slid for the fifth month in a row in January, prompting SMMT calls for government action to boost the beleaguered sector—which is also grappling with uncertainty over Brexit.

"It's encouraging to see car registrations in January broadly on par with a year ago as the latest high tech models and deals attracted buyers into showrooms," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

"This, however, is still the fifth consecutive month of overall decline in the market.

"To restore momentum, we need supportive policies, not least on taxation, to encourage buyers to invest in new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs, from the latest petrols and diesels to an ever growing range of exciting electrified vehicles.

"This would be good for the environment and good for the industry and those who depend on it."

The SMMT revealed last week that investment in British car production fell by almost half in 2018 in a "disturbing" trend that was partly due to uncertainty over Brexit.

Investment was down by 46.5 percent on the previous year, at £589 million ($769 million, 673 million euros), according to the trade organisation.

And in more gloomy news, Japanese carmaker Nissan announced Sunday that it would axe planned production of the X-Trail SUV in the Brexit-backing city of Sunderland, despite assurances from the government over the nation's EU exit.

Global carmakers are also battling fallout from China's economic slowdown—alongside its ongoing trade row with the United States.

Explore further: UK car sales rev higher in August: industry data

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