UK car industry demands Brexit progress after biggest sales fall since 2009 – business live

UK car sales suffer biggest decline since 2009

It’s official: Britain’s car industry has suffered its biggest drop in sales since the financial crisis.

Sales of new vehicles fell by 5.6% during 2017 – the first annual decline since 2011, and the worst since 2009.

Diesel sales were particularly dire, as my colleague Gwyn Topham explains:

UK car sales declined in 2017 after five years of rapid growth, with the industry blaming government for a collapse in consumer confidence in diesel vehicles.

Total sales for last year were 2.54m new vehicles, a decline of 5.6% on 2016, with diesel sales dropping 17%. Despite the decline, 2017 sales remained near the highest on record.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK automotive industry’s trade body, has forecast a further 5% to 7% decline in sales in 2018.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said 2017 had been a “very volatile year”.

While sales reached a record high in March, by December they were 13.9% down year-on-year, with 152,000 fewer cars sold than in the same month in 2016.

Hawes attributed the drop to a decline in business and consumer confidence in the wider economy and uncertainty over the future of diesel.

Sales of diesel cars dropped by 31% in December, while petrol car sales dropped by 1.6%, after relatively minor tax changes targeting diesel in the November budget.

The SMMT is now urging the UK government to rapidly agree a Brexit transition deal with Brussels.

Otherwise, Hawes warns, carmakers will soon be forced to take tough – and potentially irreversible – decisions.

He says:

(@jimconey)

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January 4, 2018