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UK new car sales fell 9 percent in key month of September - data

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UK new car sales fell 9 percent in key month of September - data

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LONDON (Reuters) – New car registrations in Britain fell by 9.2 percent in September, making it highly likely that sales this year will be down for the first time since 2011, according to preliminary numbers from an industry body. September is normally a strong month for car sales, due to the six-monthly change in the licence plate series indicating the age of vehicles, but demand in Europe’s second-biggest market has slumped over the last few months. Sales have fallen year-on-year since April due to a combination of factors including increased vehicle excise duty, weaker consumer confidence, partly due to uncertainty around Brexit, and comparisons with record sales in 2015 and 2016. Diesel car sales have been worst hit as consumers fear new levies and possible restrictions on their use in urban areas as the government continues to consult on ways to reduce pollution. September’s expected drop in sales would add to the fall of 2.4 percent between January and August, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The slump comes despite almost all major car firms offering thousands of pounds off some new models with scrappage schemes, trade-in programmes and discounts to boost sales last month. “Consumer and business confidence falls in the wake of economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans,” the SMMT said. It is due to publish final numbers at 0800 GMT on Thursday.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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