Climate Action

UK sales of diesel cars decline by 37% in one year

Sales of diesel cars have plummeted in the UK as “economic and political uncertainty” over the government’s air quality plans are dampening confidence, according to the motor industry’s trade body.

  • 05 April 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

Sales of diesel cars have plummeted in the UK as “economic and political uncertainty” over the government’s air quality plans are dampening confidence, according to the motor industry’s trade body.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released figures today that show registrations of diesel cars for March 2018 sat at 153,594, a decline of over 37 percent on the same month last year.

Overall car registrations were also down by 15.7 percent as many buyers sought to purchase vehicles before new tax rates were introduced seeking to discourage diesel usage.

By contrast, cleaner forms of transport in the shape of plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles continued to rise. Overall the entire fleet increased by 5.7 percent on last year, although hybrids shot up by 18.2 percent.

In a statement, the trade body commented that “the decline in demand for diesel cars continues to be of concern” and that the government’s new tax changes would “do nothing to encourage consumers to exchange their older diesel vehicles for new lower emission models”.

The SMMT argues that the utilising all fuel types can help reduce air pollution with the real target being consumers who hold on to older, more polluting vehicles.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s Chief Executive, said that despite the decline “the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive”.

“All technologies, regardless of fuel type, have a role to play in helping improve air quality whilst meeting our climate change targets, so government must do more to encourage consumers to buy new vehicles”, he added.

In recent months, major car companies such as Porsche and Fiat-Chrysler have announced plans to stop producing diesel cars citing falling demand and air quality concerns.

                                          Sales of electric vehicles bucked the trend of declining car registrations