LONDON: New car registrations in the U.K. slumped 14.7 per cent in December compared with December of 2005, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The trade body said the registrations during the month stood at 133,810 units. For the whole year, the figure was 2.34 million units, which again is a slump of 3.9 per cent, it added.
The registrations fell 19.3 per cent and 17.9 per cent in fleet and business sectors respectively during the month, mainly on account of changes in company car tax rules at the end of 2005 which encouraged diesel cars.
Registrations of diesel vehicles were up 0.1 per cent to a record 898,521 vehicles, accounting for more than 38 per cent of the British new car market.
The society said private car registrations fell 6.5 per cent and all the months except March had seen falls in this sector. On a yearly basis, the fall had been 4 per cent.
The society’s chief executive Christopher Macgowan said uncertainty caused by factors like interest rate rises, political instability and fuel price variations fluctuations created a difficult market place.
The society expects a further weakening of the car market in 2007 because of the curbs on consumer and government spending. Registrations may come down 1.3 per cent to around 2,315,000 vehicles, it said.
Macgowan, however, sounded optimistic when he said a host of new models are due in 2007 and there could be attractive offers to tempt buyers during the year.
During 2006, Ford Focus was the top selling model for the eighth year in a row.