Car sales in the UK in November fell in common with most major European markets except Germany as private buyers stayed out of showrooms amid economic uncertainty.
British new car sales fell by 4.2 percent on the year to 134,027 units last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Tuesday.
Car sales continued to be supported by growth in the fleet market and sales promotions. Fleet sales were up 7.5 percent on the year, but private car sales were down almost 16 percent, as were sales of business cars.
The SMMT said car registrations in the year to date were down 4.5 percent on the year at 1,822,065 units, but that they looked set to reach close to 1.94 million by the end of 2011 exceeding its earlier forecast of 1.92 million.
Car sales are still some 20 percent below their pre-recession levels. Analysts said the figures highlighted continued weak demand from consumers and firms, as a darkening economic outlook weighs on sentiment.
"The outlook for car manufacturers looks challenging and problematic with the economy struggling markedly, and consumer and business confidence both very low," said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.
"Increasingly worried businesses are under pressure to contain costs as the economy struggles for growth and the outlook appears ever more difficult. This increases the risk for car manufacturers that many businesses and fleet operators could delay replacing vehicles," he said.
Car sales declined France, Spain and Italy in November. French car registrations fell by 7.6 percent to 179,160. In Spain, sales were down 6.4 percent to 60,395 and in Italy sales dropped by 9.25 percent to 132,579.
In Germany, whose economy is still buoyant, registrations rose 2.6 percent to 269,144. The German KBA federal motor transport organization forecasts sales of 3.2 million units for the full year, a rise of 10 percent over 2010.
Reuters contributed to this story