UK car sales rebound from year-long falls: industry

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London (AFP)

Britain's new car sales rebounded slightly in April, industry data showed Friday, having slid a year earlier on taxation changes for high-polluting diesel vehicles.

New registrations for all cars rose 10.4 percent in April year-on-year to 167,911 vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

That was the first increase since March 2017 and snapped a 12-month run of sliding sales, as plunging demand for diesel vehicles offset a surge in electric and hybrid car purchases.

Overall sales began falling in April 2017 after the government overhauled car tax to hike duties on diesel automobiles.

The market's recovery last month was aided also by the timing of holidays -- with Easter Sunday and Easter Monday falling on April 1 and 2 -- and freezing March weather conditions which delayed some purchases.

"Demand was affected by a number of factors, including the timing of Easter, which meant two additional selling days this April, and March's adverse weather, which pushed some deliveries into April," the SMMT added.

"Most significant, however, were the VED changes that came into force last April, causing a pull forward into March 2017 and a subsequent depressed April market."

Despite rising overall sales, the sector remains blighted by slumping demand for diesel vehicles, as well as uncertainties arising from Brexit.

The number of new diesel-powered cars plunged 25 percent last month to 51,000, with demand sliding on UK government plans to improve air quality.

Consumers continued to ditch diesel cars for automobiles that are regarded as more environmentally-friendly.

Buyers also remain uncertain about any additional taxes and restrictions the government may seek to introduce for diesel vehicles.