Figures from the SMMT showed that the sale of new diesel vehicles fell -25.6% from last January. The SMMT believes that this is a result of confusion over government policy, which continues to cause buyers to hesitate.
Overall the UK new car market was down in the first month of the year. 163,615 new cars were sold in January, a -6.3% fall compared with the same month in 2017.
Demand fell across the board, with registrations by business, private and fleet buyers down -29.7%, -9.5% and -1.8% respectively. Meanwhile, continuing the trend of recent months, dual purpose cars (SUVs) were the only vehicle segment to see growth, with demand up 6.6% to account for a fifth (20.2%) of all new car registrations. Demand in all other segments fell, with the biggest declines affecting the mini, MPV and executive segments.
Elsewhere in the market, registrations of petrol and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose, up 8.5% and 23.9% respectively.
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.”