Running on fumes: British car sales fall again

London (AFP) - Sales of new cars in Britain slumped for an eighth straight month in November, largely on demand for diesel cars plunging further, industry data showed on Tuesday.

New registrations for vehicles overall slid last month by 11.2 percent year-on-year to 163,541 vehicles, with demand for diesel-powered cars sliding on UK government plans to improve air quality, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement.

The SMMT has meanwhile blamed falling demand also on uncertainty surrounding Britain’s Brexit deal with Brussels.

“An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“The decision to tax the latest low emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars,” he added.

Sales of new diesel cars were down 30.6 percent in November compared with 12 months earlier.

On Brexit, SMMT president Tony Walker last week said uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union was taking its toll, as he called for a transitional deal with no time limits to help the key car industry better prepare.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May wants a Brexit implementation period of about two years after Britain’s planned departure in March 2019.

Negotiations with Brussels have however stalled on the absence of an agreement over the status of the Irish/UK border post Brexit.