New Record for New Cars Sold in UK

United Kingdom auto manufacturing has also been strong, with 2016 figures to be published later this month as the industry aims to hit the 1972 record for number of cars produced.

New vehicle registrations reached a new record high in 2016 to hit a figure of 2.69 million, 2.3% up on 2015, according to the SMMT.

However, demand in December fell by over 1 percent, only the third year-on-year drop in almost five years, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said, pushed down by the first fall in fleet auto demand for almost a year.

Sales of new cars in Britain reached a record high a year ago, an industry survey showed Thursday, but 2017 was set to experience a growth slowdown on Brexit.

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Economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit negotiations, changing exchange rates and the new VED tax rules would remove some of the incentives to go out and buy a new vehicle, he said.

"The slowdown was expected towards the end of the year and we believe that the segments of the market that saw an increase in December and have consistently performed well throughout the year, such as alternative fuel vehicles, will continue to drive the growth in the upcoming months".

But he warned that 2017 could be more challenging with a weaker pound pushing up the price of imported goods.

Although he is expecting a "lumpy" performance in 2017, March - the biggest sales month of the year - will most likely remain unaffected as new licence plates are introduced. More than 85% of new cars bought in the United Kingdom are imported.

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The development is part of a general boom in the United Kingdom automotive industry, with annual registrations on all types of cars climbing for the fifth year in a row to nearly 2.7 million.

SMMT's chief executive Mike Hawes attributes this to the popularity of new technologies and a latent demand for new cars built up during the recession. She said: "You can pay the balloon payment, but most people don't, they return the auto ..."

Overall, the impact of Brexit on the auto industry was is so far, unclear.

BMW had 182,593 registrations in 2016, up nine per cent on the previous year, Audi saw an increase of 6.4 per cent to 177,304 registrations and Mercedes-Benz were up 16.9 per cent to 169,828.

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