UK car sales drop in 2017 for first time in 6 years

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FILE - In this Friday Feb. 20, 2009 file photo, new Land Rover Freelander vehicles are stockpiled outside the Jaguar and Land Rover factory in Halewood, Liverpool, England. The British car industry association said Friday Jan. 5, 2017, that automobile sales in the country fell in 2017 for the first time in six years and are set to fall further this year largely because of subdued economic growth. (AP Photo/Paul Thomas, File)

The British car industry association says automobile sales in the country fell in 2017 for the first time in six years and are set to fall further this year largely because of subdued economic growth.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said Friday that overall demand fell 5.7 percent in 2017 to 2.54 million vehicles.

Though the number of sales is the third-highest ever, the fall was the most acute since 2009, when the British economy was mired in a deep recession following the global financial crisis.

While acknowledging the negative impact of “confusing anti-diesel messages,” the organization said waning economic confidence has taken its toll.

The British economy weakened in 2017 as uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union weighed on sentiment.

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