December 5, 2017 / 9:16 AM / a year ago

UK new car sales on course for first annual drop since 2011

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - British new car registrations dropped 5 percent in the year to date, putting them on track for the first annual fall since 2011, hit by weaker consumer confidence and uncertainty over the future of diesel, an industry body said on Tuesday.

Sales slumped 11.2 percent in November to 163,541 cars, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with demand falling among business, fleet and individual buyers.

Diesel has been particularly hit this year, with registrations declining 16.1 percent between January and November, while petrol rose 3.1 percent in the same period.

“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.

Britain will increase the tax paid by those driving new diesel cars that do not meet the latest emissions standards from next year, finance minister Philip Hammond said last month, in the latest blow to the segment.

Since the 2015 Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, a number of major cities including Madrid, Paris and Athens have announced plans particularly focused on cutting diesel emissions including bans, fines and restrictions. (Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Andy Bruce)

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