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Fall in consumer confidence puts brakes on new car sales for sixth month

Just over 426,000 new cars were registered in September, down 9.3% on the same month last year, according to the SMMT.

The new car market has declined for a sixth consecutive month, industry figures show.

Just over 426,000 new cars were registered in September, down 9.3% on the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

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(PA Graphics)

The organisation blamed a fall in consumer confidence caused by economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans.

Some 2.07 million new cars have been registered so far this year, a decrease of 3.9% on the same period in 2016.

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(PA Graphics)

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern. Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big-ticket purchases.

“The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.

“Manufacturers’ scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities.”

Demand for diesel cars continued to drop sharply – down 21.7% in September and 13.7% for the year so far.

Petrol models were down 1.2% last month, while alternatively fuelled vehicles rose 41% to achieve a market share of 5.3%.

The Government recently announced plans to ban the sale of all conventional diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in a bid to meet European Union limits on harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution.

It is also considering funding measures to cut pollution with a tax on new diesel vehicles.

The SMMT claimed uncertainty surrounding air quality plans is “thwarting the ambitions” of the Government and the motor industry to reduce pollution levels by “undermining the rollout of the latest low emissions models”.

The Committee on Climate Change has said 60% of new cars and vans must be electric by 2030 to meet carbon targets cost-effectively.

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