SMMT figures for January 2018 show registrations of diesel cars down by a quarter and overall sales down 6.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2017.
Monthly registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 163,615 cars were driven off forecourts in January 2018 compared to 174,564 in January 2017.
According to SMMT, demand fell across the board, with registrations by business, private and fleet buyers down -29.7 per cent, -9.5 per cent and -1.8 per cent respectively. Dual purpose cars (SUVs) were the only vehicle segment to see growth, with demand up 6.6 per cent to account for a fifth (20.2 per cent) of all new car registrations. Demand in all other segments fell, with the biggest declines affecting the mini, MPV and executive segments.
Registrations of petrol and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were up 8.5 per cent and 23.9 per cent respectively. This growth failed to offset the decline in demand for new diesel cars, which fell -25.6 per cent.
In 2017, more than two in five of the cars leaving British production lines were diesels, while manufacturers also produced more than one million engines, which directly supported 3,350 jobs and, combined with the UK’s petrol engine output, delivered £8.5bn to the economy.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The ongoing and substantial decline in new diesel car registrations is concerning, particularly since the evidence indicates consumers and businesses are not switching into alternative technologies, but keeping their older cars running.
“Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality and reduce CO2, we need government policy to encourage take up of the latest advanced low emission diesels as, for many drivers, they remain the right choice economically and environmentally.”
The Ford Fiesta was the UK’s top selling car in January with 8,335 registrations, followed by the Volkswagen Golf (4,310), and Ford Focus (4,105).