New car market shrank by nearly 16% in March, as concerns over diesel engines hurt demand

The slump in demand for diesel-engined cars has continued to hit the UK new car market, which declined by 15.7% year on year in March.

Preliminary figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that demand for diesel cars was down by just over 37%. By comparison, sales of alternative fuelled vehicles – including electric cars – was up by more than 5%, and demand for petrol cars increased by just under 1%.

The decline of 15.7%, which is substantially higher than the 2.8% year-on-year drop in February, is partly because March 2017 was a record month for UK new car sales, ahead of April's change in Vehicle Excise Duty.

Top 10 best-selling cars in Britain 2018

The March figures mean that the new car market declined by around 12% in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017. 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.

"A thriving new car market is essential to the overall health of our economy," he said. "This means creating the right economic conditions for all types of consumers to have the confidence to buy new vehicles. 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 rather than hang onto their older, more polluting vehicles.”

The UK Government's new diesel tax hike was introduced this month and requires new models that drink from the black pump to conform to the Euro 6d emissions standard, which isn't due to come into force until 2020. No new models currently meet that requirement, meaning every new diesel car has been hit with the rise.

Diesel now represents 33.5% of the new car market, a decrease of 10.5% compared with this period in 2017. Meanwhile, petrol now accounts for 61.4% of new car sales, up from 52% last year, contributing to a rise in average CO2 emissions for new cars in Britain that first started in February.

Things are more familiar in the bestselling car model list, with longstanding chart-topper, the Ford Fiesta, receiving 19,272 (32,808 in the year-to-date) registrations to the second placed Volkswagen Golf's 13,966 (21,203 year-to-date). The Nissan Qashqai holds onto third with 12,018 registrations (16,914 year-to-date), but the Vauxhall Corsa overtakes the Ford Focus for fourth with 11,718 sales to the Focus's 9403.

Additional reporting by Sam Sheehan

Read more

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Global new car sales: key trends and what they mean

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Comments
30

5 April 2018

Cars built around 10-14 years are so much better and last longer they're beginning to affect sales of new cars which is actally a good thing IMHO. As to the diesel share decline another good thing IMHO, 15-20% of the market would be ideal in the short term.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

6 April 2018
xxxx wrote:

Cars built around 10-14 years are so much better and last longer they're beginning to affect sales of new cars which is actally a good thing IMHO. As to the diesel share decline another good thing IMHO, 15-20% of the market would be ideal in the short term.

Well said, four x.  You have been paying attention after all, and you are entirely correct to say that falling sales of new cars is a desirable thing because cars are capable of lasting longer, and it is absolutely imperative that such longevity is maximized, as that is the one and only way to improve the environmental impact of the freedom of movement we rightly cherish.

Mike Hawes is a lying cunt, he doesn't give a toss about the environment, he would like to see cars as young as eight years old being needlessly scrapped to generate sales of unnecessary new cars, which would be an utterly disgraceful waste of the planet's finite resources.  No car has ever been made, and none ever will be, which merits the scrapping of an existing car with useful life remaining.  What should be scrapped is the vile piece of shit Hawes and his despicable SMMT.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

5 April 2018

....or is it just dealers are not accepting cars to pre-register and stockpile in a field? A year or so back there were reports that this practice was widespread in an effort to earn volume discounts. Perhaps some sanity has returned to the market. 

5 April 2018

Car manufacturers have been wayyyy too slow to see what was happening to diesel.  Ssangyong have no plans to drop their diesels.  I know because I asked.  This is appalling vision and planning.  Where I work, we (unusually perhaps) need a small automatic van.  We don't want diesel, and are struggling to find a petrol one.  You can have disel and automatic, or petrol and manual, but not petrol automatic!  If anyone knows of one (not a Fiat!) then please say so.  Thanks.

5 April 2018

Nissan have a small light van and it is electric. Your business could take advantage of government grants to purchase the vehicle and to install charging equipment so in my view your problem can be solved easily. 

5 April 2018

Mitsubishi Outlander Commercial. Not quite a van, nor small, nor cheap, but there you go.

5 April 2018

 Maybe with the rush towards Ev’s and other non fossil fuelled Cars has also pushed Deisel powered Cars faster down the slippery slope....?

Peter Cavellini.

5 April 2018

Alternatively fuelled vehicles rose 5% (from March 17 - March 18). As that rise was from a low base, I would hardly call that a rush!

5 April 2018

Sangyong have healthy sales to buyers who tow caraavans, horse boxes and so on so diesel will always win over petrol and hybrid. Subaru are dropping diesel which will leave some of their UK dealers who sell 90% diesel without a customer base. I can just see in 20 years time - or less- major problems with sourcing and recycling of EV batteries with the press asking why have we been conned by politicians into EV’s?  

5 April 2018
adrian888 wrote:

I can just see in 20 years time - or less- major problems with sourcing and recycling of EV batteries with the press asking why have we been conned by politicians into EV’s?  

It won't happen. Even older batteries with low efficiencies will be too valuable to ignore. They can be reusued for the electric car charging infrastructure, power storage for homes, etc. They won't be worthless, like a pair of 20 year old AA batteries.

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