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UK New Car Sales Fall For Second Year: SMMT

UK new car registrations decreased for a second year running in 2018, amid falling consumer confidence, political uncertainty and regulatory changes.

New car registrations decreased 6.8 percent to 2.37 million units, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, or SMMT, showed on Monday. Sales fell 5.5 percent in December. The fleet sector logged the biggest decline and private motorists and smaller business operators also registered fewer cars.

Among the vehicle segments, only the dual purpose category witnessed increased demand. Superminis and lower medium cars remained the most popular, despite a fall in their registrations.

Diesel sector had the biggest volume decline among different fuel types, thanks to anti-diesel rhetoric and negative fiscal measures. December marked the 21st consecutive month of decrease for diesel cars.

Many diesel vehicle owners have adopted a "wait and see" approach, the SMMT said.

Registrations for petrol and alternatively fueled vehicles increased.

"A second year of substantial decline is a major concern, as falling consumer confidence, confusing fiscal and policy messages and shortages due to regulatory changes have combined to create a highly turbulent market," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

"The industry is facing ever-tougher environmental targets against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty that is weakening demand so these figures should act as a wake-up call for policy makers."

That said, the demand for cars in the UK remains solid with volumes on a par with the preceding 15-year average, and the market still the second biggest in the EU, Hawes said.

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