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UK car sales skid lower in September on poor consumer confidence
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Oct 5, 2017

Political and economic uncertainty, not least from Brexit, sent sales of new cars in Britain falling sharply in September, data showed on Thursday.

New car sales fell 9.3 percent year-on-year to 426,170 vehicles in September, industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

It is the first time in six years that new registrations fell in September, a month in which a change in number plates usually buoys the automobile industry.

However, this has not been the case this year amid fallout from Britain's decision to quit the European Union.

"September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market, so this decline will cause considerable concern," said SMMT head Mike Hawes.

"Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big-ticket purchases," he said.

Confusion around government air quality plans may also have contributed to the decline, Hawes continued.

Under a change in UK tax rules that came into effect in April, all new cars -- except for those with zero carbon dioxide emissions -- are now subject to an annual flat-rate charge.

Previously, low-emission models had also been exempt.

Demand for petrol-fuelled cars fell 1.2 percent in September, while diesel tumbled 21.7 percent.

Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, including electric and hybrid cars, surged 41 percent, the industry data showed.

Looking at the nine months to September, total new car sales were down 3.9 percent from the year-earlier period.

The best-selling car in Britain last month was the Nissan Qashqai, followed by the Volkswagen Golf, with the Ford Fiesta in third place.

- Tiles and sofas hit -

As inflation rises and confidence plummets, consumers have been just as unwilling to spend on goods for inside their homes as they have been to splash out on new cars.

Furniture retailer DFS announced on Thursday that its annual pretax profit sank 22.3 percent, causing shares to fall four percent in late afternoon trading.

British home improvement retailer Topps Tiles meanwhile issued a profit warning on Wednesday, blaming the slowing house market and consumer demand.

"The DFS results are proof of the pudding that the cost of living squeeze is already starting to weigh on consumption," commented analyst Jasper Lawler at London Capital Group.

British households' purchasing power has been dented by the rising cost of imports after last year's Brexit referendum vote, which sent the pound slumping.





Two intelligent vehicles are better than one
Lausanne, Switzerland (SPX) Oct 05, 2017
Intelligent vehicles get their intelligence from cameras, Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors, and navigation and mapping systems. But there are ways to make them even smarter. Researchers at EPFL are working to improve the reliability and fault tolerance of these systems by combining the data they gather with that from other vehicles. This can, for example, extend the field of vie ... read more

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