New UK car registrations dropped 1.6 per cent in January, the fifth successive month of declines as falling demand for diesel cars and low consumer confidence continued to drag on sales.

Sales fell to 161,013 cars, with a 20 per cent fall in diesel car registrations, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“To restore momentum, we need supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation, to encourage buyers to invest in new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

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Last week, the industry body said investment in the sector fell by 50 per cent in 2018 as firms held back spending due to Brexit-related uncertainty.

Despite all the support initiatives by the UK government and parliament, car bosses are clear about one thing, according to their spokesman.

“Nothing has changed” since the 2016 referendum to reassure them about the prospects of investing in Britain. And they are “beyond frustration” with the politicians.

Among many other problems, the industry has highlighted the lack of progress in signing off on the valuable free trade deals with nations such as Japan and South Korea that the UK currently enjoys via the EU, but which will be forfeited automatically after a no deal Brexit.

The latest figures come as Nissan announced that it would build its new X-Trail model in Japan, not the UK as had previously been planned.

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