LONDON -- UK new-car registrations rose only slightly in May, possibly reflecting uncertainty over an impending referendum on whether the country remains in the EU.
Sales last month increased by 2.5 percent to 203,585, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said today.
"The new-car market in May remained high ... but the low growth is further evidence of the market cooling in the face of concerns around economic and political stability," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said in a statement.
The SMMT said fleet buyers drove growth in May, with demand up 8.8 percent, while registrations by private customers fell 3 percent. "Whether this is the result of some buyers holding off until the current uncertainty is resolved or a sign of a more stable market for new cars remains to be seen," Hawes said.
In April, registrations increased by 2 percent. Five-month sales rose 4.1 percent to 1.16 million.
• Download file, above right, for UK May and 5-month sales.
The UK's economy has slowed ahead of the so-called "Brexit" referendum on June 23 on the country's EU membership. Today, a group representing UK manufacturers said they expected a slight recovery for the sector later this year but that slow improvement could be knocked off course if the country votes to leave the EU.