Diesel hit as new car sales tumble

Plunging sales saw the UK new car market in decline for a seventh consecutive month in October, with 158,192 new units registered.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal overall demand fell by 12.2 per cent in October, with diesel sales being the worst affected. While petrol sales rose slightly at 2.7 per cent, diesel suffered a 29.9 per cent reduction. Meanwhile Alternative Fuelled Vehicle (AFV) continued their upward march, up 36.9 per cent with 8,244 registrations.

These latest sales figures are in keeping with recent market performance. Year-to-date, the market is down 4.6 per cent on 2016 levels, with 2.2m cars registered in the first 10 months. Dealers have also reported 1.1 per cent fewer private buyers for October.

With cities unveiling plans to phase out the use of petrol and diesel cars, the industry is facing the stern task of adapting to environmental and legislative challenges.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes has called on the government to provide greater clarity on the future of diesel in the UK.

He said: “Declining business and consumer business confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new market but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel. Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK.