New UK tax, shorter sales pe­riod take toll on ve­hi­cle sales

New Straits Times - - Business World -

BER­LIN: Euro­pean car sales fell last month as the shift of Easter from March re­duced buy­ers’ time for shop­ping, while reg­is­tra­tions in the United Kingdom were fur­ther sapped by tax changes.

With at least two fewer sell­ing days compared with a year ago, in­dus­try-wide reg­is­tra­tions dropped 6.8 per cent to 1.23 mil­lion vehicles last month, ac­cord­ing to the Brussels-based Euro­pean Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. Re­gional leader Volkswagen AG and fifth-ranked Ford Mo­tor Co lost mar­ket share to Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles NV and Re­nault SA.

Sales plunged 20 per cent in the UK af­ter a new ve­hi­cle-ex­cise duty went into ef­fect on April 1. That could set the stage for fur­ther drops in de­mand amid the fall­out from Bri­tain’s prepa­ra­tions to exit the Euro­pean Union.

Car-sales growth is about to slow af­ter three years of con­sec­u­tive gains, as many con­sumers have al­ready bought new au­tos and buy­ers in the UK, Europe’s sec­ond-big­gest mar­ket, be­gin to feel Brexit’s eco­nomic pinch.

Euro­pean car de­liv­er­ies rose to a nine-year high last year, as the mar­ket re­cov­ered from a twodecade low hit in 2013. De­spite last month’s poor per­for­mance, sales are set to inch higher again this year, al­beit at a slower pace. Bloomberg

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