U.K. Auto Sales Hold Steady After EU Vote, Strong First Half

  • Car registrations up 0.1 percent in July after weak June
  • Demand from company fleets offsets slow sales to consumers

U.K. auto sales grew 0.1 percent in July, recovering from a weak June but failing to match strength earlier in the year as customers grew wary about big purchases in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

Deliveries increased to 178,523 vehicles from 178,420 a year earlier, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement, as sales to company fleets offset lower demand from individuals. Sales for the first seven months of the year were up 2.8 percent to 1.6 million autos.

“After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015 the market is showing signs of cooling,” the group’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Hawes said. “The automotive market is a vital part of the British economy and it’s important government delivers the economic conditions which instill business and consumer confidence.”

The June 23 referendum has prompted predictions of an economic downturn in the U.K., Europe’s second-biggest car market after Germany. Declining U.K. sales will probably slow the pace of growth in vehicle production across Europe in the second half, car-parts maker Continental AG said this week.

European car sales growth slowed in June as factors ranging from the Brexit referendum to the Volkswagen AG diesel emissions scandal hurt demand. Sales fell by 0.8 percent in the U.K., the country’s first decline since October.

The U.K. industry group forecasts sales of 2.7 million new cars for the full year, up 1 percent from 2015. It typically takes a few weeks for car purchases to translate into recorded registrations.

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