British cars sales shift into reverse

PARIS, France (AFP)–Sales of new cars fell in Britain last month as the nation voted to leave the European Union, data showed Friday, while elsewhere in the bloc they continued to accelerate.

Registration of new cars fell in Britain dipped 0.8 percent in June, the first decline in the market this year, which has seen sales growth brake as the Brexit vote approached.

Sales of new cars in the first half of this year increased by 3.2 percent in Britain, less than half the rate in fellow large European countries France and Germany, and below the 9.4 percent overall for the EU.

Economists have been concerned that the British economy could be in for a crunch if consumers postpone purchases and businesses delay investments due to uncertainty over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU.

The pollution cheating scandal appears to have crimped the Volkswagen brand, which managed only 0.8 percent sales growth in the first half of this year, the worst performance in Europe of any top marque save Nissan which saw its sales dip 1.2 percent.

The Volkswagen group, which also includes Audi and Porsche brands among others, trailed other major manufacturers with only 4.5 percent sales growth, although it was still way out in the lead in total sales with a market share of 23.7 percent.

Among European manufacturers, FCA, which groups together Fiat and Jeep, saw the fastest acceleration with a 17.2 percent increase in sales in the first half of the year.

Mercedes-maker Daimler, BMW, as well as Renault posted double digit gains.

Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Mazda, Jaguar Land Rover, Suzuki and Honda also managed two figure sales gains.

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