LONDON -- UK new-car registrations dropped for a fourth consecutive month in July, the longest run of declines since 2011
Demand fell across business, fleet and private sales with total registrations down by 9.3 percent to 161,997, compared with July last year, industry association SMMT said on Friday.
Falling sales are the latest sign of how uncertainty about Brexit is hitting Britain's economy, the SMMT said.
"The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock-on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.
Samuel Tombs, an economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, warned that "the downturn has further to run." The hit to consumer sentiment from June's national election - in which Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority - could push registrations down further as sales tend to lag six months behind consumer confidence, he said.
The SMMT sought to reassure consumers considering diesel vehicles following the confusion over the fuel’s future in some European markets. "It is important to remember that there are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 [diesel] models," Hawes said.
Ford down, VW gains
UK market leader Ford saw registrations fall by 24 percent in July, while sales at second-placed Volkswagen brand grew 0.4 percent. Third-placed Audi's volume rose 11 percent. Sales at No. 4 Mercedes-Benz slipped 0.2 percent, while Vauxhall sales plummeted 42 percent at No. 5.
• Download sales by brand for July and seven months above right.
Through July, total market sales fell 2.2 percent to 1.56 million.
The UK's sales drop contrasted with increases in other key European markets last month. Registrations in Germany rose 1.5 percent, while French sales were up 11 percent. In Italy, volume increased 5.9 percent, and in Spain registrations rose 2.5 percent.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report