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UK Car Registrations Fall For Fifth Month: SMMT

UK car registrations declined for a fifth straight month in January, as increased demand from private buyers failed to offset the fall in business and fleet registrations, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, or SMMT, showed on Tuesday.

New car registrations fell 1.6 percent year-on-year to 161,013 units. Private buyer demand rose 2.9 percent, while bookings from business and fleet buyers decreased 33.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

The start of the year also witnessed a surge in the demand for alternatively fueled vehicles. Bookings for electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid cars jumped 26.3 percent, accounting for 6.8 percent market share.

The alternatively fueled vehicle market is forecast to rise more than a quarter by the end of 2019 to around 177,000 units, the SMMT said.

The market share of ultra low emission plug-in hybrids and battery electrics are set to grow to around 3.7 percent this year as an increasing number of new models come on sale.

However, this level is still at the lower end of government ambitions, underlining the need for greater purchase incentives and investment in charging infrastructure, the SMMT said.

Petrol demand also grew 7.3 percent in January, but this was inadequate to offset another month of decline for diesel, as registrations fell 20.3 percent.

"It's encouraging to see car registrations in January broadly on par with a year ago as the latest high tech models and deals attracted buyers into showrooms," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

"To restore momentum, we need supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation, to encourage buyers to invest in new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs - from the latest petrols and diesels to an ever growing range of exciting electrified vehicles," he added.

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