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