October 2017 marked the seventh consecutive month in which the UK car market has declined.
Car registrations dropped by 12.2% compared with the same month last year, with a total of 158,192, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).
The most notable decline was for diesel models, which dropped 29.9%, continuing a downward trend; in September, traditionally the biggest month for car sales in the UK, diesel registrations dropped 21.7%.
SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said that while declining business and consumer confidence is affecting the new car market, this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesels.
Hawes said: “Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emissions diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions anywhere in the UK. We urge the Government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low-emissions vehicles, because fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns.”
Demand for electric and hybrid models continued to grow in October, up 36.9% to 8244 registrations compared with last October, while petrol models recorded a slight growth of 2.7%.
The Ford Fiesta is back at the UK's top-selling spot, having lost out to the Nissan Qashqai in September. Ford sold 7256 Fiestas in October. The Volkswagen Golf came in second place and the Ford Focus in third, while the Nissan Qashqai dropped to fourth place with 3923 units sold.
Only 12 of 41 manufacturers bucked the trend with increased car registrations compared with October 2016. These were Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Honda, Kia, Lotus, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, Seat, Ssangyong and Toyota.