UK car sales continue downward spiral

The reason why global carmakers are homing in on emerging economies like India is becoming increasingly clear – car sales in the UK fell for the tenth successive month in April, according to figures released on Friday.

The declining sales are partly a result of the government ending the 'scrappage' scheme last year, according to Britain's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Under the scheme, buyers could trade in old cars for less-polluting models at a heavy discount.

The Ford Fiesta was the top-selling model again in April, followed by the Volkswagen Golf and the Vauxhall Astra in third place. A total of 137,746 new cars were registered last month, 7.4 per cent less than in April 2010, SMMT said.

The April 2011 figure took the year-so-far total to 696,082, an 8.5 per cent drop on the same period in 2010, which was boosted by the government's car scrappage scheme.

Despite the dip in sales last month, registrations were slightly above the SMMT's expectations and its full-year sales forecast remains at 1.93 million.

The market is expected to recover next year, back above two million cars sold. But the SMMT said uncertainty remained over buyer confidence and from possible short-term supply constraints caused by the earthquake in Japan.