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UK new car sales lowest in three years

By Philip Smith

Petrol and diesel vehicle sales drop while electric vehicle purchases are up 114 per cent on last year

New car sales in the UK fell to their lowest in six years, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Figures just released show sales last year dropped 2.4 per cent to 2.3m vehicles; the third consecutive annual fall. The decline in petrol and diesel car purchases has been put down to increasing restrictions – such as limits on older diesel vehicles going into city centres - and domestic economic uncertainty.

If the UK and EU fail to reach post Brexit trade terms, tariffs will make UK car sales more expensive, and push the price of imports from the major EU manufacturers such as Germany, France and Italy up. “Undoubtedly consumer confidence on big-ticket items is still very weak,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

However, alternatively fuelled vehicles took a record 7.4 per cent market share, dominated by a 17 per cent rise for hybrid vehicles to 97,850 units. Registrations of battery-electric cars surged to record levels, up 144 per cent with a further 23 new models set to hit showrooms this year, says SMMT, but they still only account for 1.6 per cent share of the market.

The UK is Europe’s second biggest car market behind Germany.

FURTHER READING: Sales of electric cars surge in the UK

FURTHER READING: Tesla unveils record deliveries in Q4

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