The market for new cars in the UK slumped for a seventh consecutive month in October, as consumer confidence was hit by Brexit-induced market uncertainty and a lack of clarity on the Government’s diesel policy.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released on Monday showed that 158,192 new vehicles were registered during the month, down more than 12 per cent on the same month in 2016.
All sectors suffered falls, with business and fleet demand down 26.8 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. Demand for private vehicles slid just over 10 per cent.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said that a lack of clarity around the Government’s policy on diesel vehicles was largely to blame for the slump.
“Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market but this is being compounded by confusion over Government policy on diesel,” he said.
“Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK,” he added.
New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned from 2040 as part of Government efforts to tackle air pollution, but rules around diesel vehicles currently hitting the market have so far been vague – especially for lower emissions models.
Demand for so-called Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles, or AFVs, rose sharply last month – by 36.9 per cent – but those gains were unable to offset the heavy losses across the other segments.
Across diesel vehicles, demand plummeted 29.9 per cent.
“We urge the Government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low emission vehicles as fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns,” said Mr Hawes.
Year-to-date, the overall car market is now down by 4.6 per cent on the equivalent levels last year.
In the 10 months to the end of October, 2,224,603 cars were registered.
Ford Fiesta was the best-selling car during the month, as it has been so far this year, followed by the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus and the Nissan Qashqai.
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