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Ford becomes latest carmaker to launch UK scrappage scheme

A new car is displayed on the forecourt of a Ford dealership at Portslade near Brighton in southern England January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Ford on Tuesday became the latest carmaker to launch a car scrappage scheme in Britain, joining the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, after months of procrastination from the government over whether to begin a national programme.

The U.S. automaker is offering customers a 2,000 pound discount off a range of many Ford models when they trade in their vehicles registered until the end of 2009.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Vauxhall, the British version of the Opel brand sold on the continent, have all launched similar schemes in recent weeks to incentivise motorists to reduce emissions by replacing their gas-guzzling models with greener cars.

The plans come after Britain once again delayed in July a decision over whether to introduce a nationwide or targeted vehicle scrappage scheme, with a consultation due to take place later this year, despite worries over emissions levels.

"Ford shares society's concerns over air quality," its managing director in Britain Andy Barratt said on Tuesday.

"Removing generations of the most polluting vehicles will have the most immediate positive effect on air quality."

Ford, BMW, Vauxhall and Mercedes sell around 1 million cars in Britain, more than a third of all new car registrations.

The scrappage schemes will help support sales at a time when demand for new cars is beginning to slide substantially for the first time in around six years.

In July, new car registrations fell for the fourth consecutive month in a row, hit by a number of factors including uncertainty over Brexit and lack of clarity over future government plans around new levies on diesel models.

Britain's last government-backed scrappage scheme came in the wake of the financial crisis and ran for nearly a year from mid-2009, helping to support the car sector, which had been hit by nose-diving sales.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Louise Heavens)