New car sales in the UK plummeted 20% in April, largely due to the rise in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates, according to industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).
Registrations fell by 19.8% to 152,076 in April, compared with 189,505 cars sold in April 2016.
It was also the first month in 47 in which there was a downturn in demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) which is also attributed to the higher VED rates affecting hybrid models.
Private buyers and business demand were also down, falling by 28.4% and 21% respectively. Meanwhile, petrol demand dropped by 13.1%, but the most notable drop was diesel which fell by 27.3%. However, despite sales falling, the market share for diesel rose versus April. In March, diesel accounted for 43.4% of sales and in April, 44.9%.
Overall, the market is up 1.1% year-to-date with a record 972,092 cars registered in the first four months.
The news comes after a bumper March for car sales, thanks to the number plate change and the public’s desire to avoid the VED rises that came into force on 1 April.