Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

United Kingdom sales of diesel cars decline by 37% in one year

United Kingdom sales of diesel cars decline by 37% in one year

Preliminary data shows the market for new cars in the United Kingdom fell by 15.7% compared to 2017 figures, the biggest fall since the 2009 financial collapse.

United Kingdom auto sales declined notably in March from a year ago, as diesel registrations plunged, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported Thursday.

Hawes said despite the persistent run of falling call sales over the past year, the market was relatively strong, with last month's market was the fourth biggest March on record.

Customers are keeping old cars for longer and avoiding diesels

Buyers don't believe that petrol or electrified cars can deliver the performance or economy benefits they need, and so they are holding on to older vehicles for longer.

This March, registrations fell to 474,069 vehicles, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed, although demand for petrol models rose 0.5 percent.

Fall in diesel demand continues, down -37.2% compared to same month past year, with AFVs up 5.7% and petrol holding steady at 0.5%.

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"Whereas, I think that what the government wanted to say was "go ahead and buy new diesel cars until alternative new fuels are available but in the meantime get rid of the old ones".

Ian Plummer, Manufacturing and Agency Director at Auto Trader, said: "Not only has it [Brexit] severely dented consumer confidence but falling exchange rates has reduced the scope for manufacturers to entice consumers with strong offers due to the impact of a falling pound on the profitability of cars sold in the United Kingdom".

However, declining diesel sales are also likely to impact the carbon tailpipe emissions of new cars, potentially hampering progress towards climate change targets.

"That way, the one in six drivers (18 per cent) we know are interested in buying an electric in the next two years, have the confidence - finally - to make the change, knowing that there are enough public charging points to support their choice". SMMT boss Mike Hawes said that while March's results aren't a surprise given the unusual surge in registrations seen in March 2017, the continued decline highlighted a dent in consumer and business confidence.

Commenting on the data, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "March's decline is not unexpected given the huge surge in registrations in the same month past year". This means creating the right economic conditions for all types of consumers to have the confidence to buy new vehicles.

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