New car sales in UK skid off road

Aug 4 | Updated: Aug 5 2005, 05:30am hrs
UK new car sales fell by 6.6% in July, the seventh straight decline this year, after automaker MG Rover Group collapsed and higher interest rates deterred buyers, said the countrys carmakers association.

Registrations of new autos last month dropped to 1,75,277 vehicles from a year earlier, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a faxed statement on Thursday.

Seven-month sales fell by 5.9% to 1.47 million cars. "The record volumes of the last few years are well behind us," said Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the society, in the statement. "Consumers and manufacturers alike are feeling vulnerable, and we dont see any respite."

A surge in oil prices and a slowdown in consumer spending curbed Britains economic growth.

The economy expanded by 1.7% in the second quarter from a year earlier compared to 2.1% in the previous quarter, the government said on July 22. UK car sales fell by 0.5% in 2004 to 2.57 million and are forecast by the society to slide again this year.

In Germany, new car sales increased by 2% to 2,72,000 vehicles last month, the countrys automobile association said on Wednesday. Italys car sales rose by 1.2% in July to 2,11,227 vehicles, as per government sources. Frances car and light-truck sales fell by 4.7% to 1,90,938 vehicles, the French carmakers association said on August 1.