There were 499,980 new cars sold in 2008, 1.1% fewer than in the previous year, the RAI and Bovag motoring organisations said on Tuesday.
Both organisations are forecasting a further slight fall in 2009.
Buyers went for smaller, cleaner and more fuel efficient models in 2008. Top seller was the Volkswagen Golf, followed by the Peugeot 207 and the Opel Corsa.
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