(Recasts, adds details)
LONDON Aug 4 British car registrations were
flat in July but demand from private consumers fell for the
fourth month in a row suggesting a hit to confidence, data for
the first full month since Britons voted to leave the European
Union showed on Thursday.
Sales rose 0.06 percent year-on-year to 178,523 units with a
rise in business demand for fleet vehicles compensating for a 6
percent drop in demand from members of the public.
Car deliveries typically occur several weeks after purchase
decisions so there is normally a lag in recording any changes in
demand which may delay any Brexit vote effect.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders urged the
government to support demand in Europe's second-biggest autos
"The automotive market is a vital part of the British
economy and it's important government delivers the economic
conditions which instil business and consumer confidence," CEO
Mike Hawes said.
Sales fell in June, only the second time since 2012, and the
industry narrowly avoided a decline in sales last month, which
would have been the first time demand had fallen for two
consecutive months in a row in four and a half years.
One of Britain's biggest selling brands, Volkswagen
, saw its sales fall 9.5 percent in July, the ninth
month out of the last ten in which VW's sales have dropped since
the emissions scandal broke at the end of September.
Around four in five car purchases in Britain are made using
cheap credit where buyers effectively rent a new car - typically
for three years - before trading it in for a new model using a
scheme known as a personal contract plan (PCP).
But Samuel Tombs, Chief UK economist at Pantheon
Macroeconomics, suggested that a surge in car sales in recent
years driven by low interest rates was coming to an end.
"Uncertainty about the economic outlook is making consumers
cautious to purchase big-ticket discretionary items," he said.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Andy Bruce and Giles