UK car sales rev higher in August: industry data

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London (AFP)

Britain's new car sales surged almost a quarter in August from one year earlier, as a government push for cleaner vehicles boosted demand for electric models, industry data showed Wednesday.

New registrations for all cars revved 23.1 percent higher in August year-on-year to 94,094 vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement.

Petrol car sales surged 39 percent, while one in every 12 buyers purchased either a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, SMMT data showed.

Sales of new diesel cars fell 7.7 percent in August year-on-year ahead of tougher UK emissions tests that began September 1.

"It's great to see such strong (overall sales) growth, particularly in the important electric vehicle market," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

"However, given August is always a small month in new car registrations ahead of the important plate-change month of September, it would be wrong to view the market as booming.

"Indeed, this past month has seen some significant variances as regulatory (emissions) changes have disrupted some supplies," Hawes added.

So far this year, overall UK sales of new cars are down 4.2 percent, compared with the first eight months of 2017.

It comes as the SMMT blames Brexit uncertainty for plunging UK investment by the country's largely foreign-owned auto sector.