The UK car industry hits out at government as sales of diesel cars fall 30pc in one month

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The UK car industry hits out at government as sales of diesel cars fall 30pc in one month

UK sales of diesel cars fall 30pc in one month

UK diesel sales continue to fall at a dramatic rate. As a result of the continuing demise of diesel fuel cars, the car industry in the UK has launched a stinging attack on the “demonisation” of diesel by the British Government after sales of diesel vehicles plunged by almost one third in just one month.

New car registrations have seen the eighth consecutive month of decline. When comparing this month to November 2016, there has been a drop of 11.2pc.

The numbers so far have revealed a near-collapse in sales of diesel cars, plummeting 30.6pc to 61,730 in the month and driving the SMMT to hit out at government policy.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Falling business and consumer confidence is being exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government.

“Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.”

“The decision to tax the latest low-emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars.”

The political establishments position on diesel fuel in Britain is causing confusion among drivers, Mr Hawes said, adding:

“Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counter-productive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences.”

Car manufacturers have also said that it would not speed up development of even cleaner engines, since the technology takes years to perfect, whereas the Budget changes come into effect from April 2018.

The row between government and the car industry over what it calls the demonisation of diesel became an issue in July when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)  said the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned in 2040.

The announcement was clouded with uncertainty, as Defra was initially unable to say whether the ban included hybrid vehicles powered by internal combustion engines and batteries, which are much less polluting than traditional cars.

Car industry sources said this highlighted how little ministers understood the issue, saying they should be given targets to achieve and allowed to develop the technology to hit them, rather than being forced to follow prescribed routes.

The introduction of the T-Charge on polluting vehicles in London has also caused some confusion. Mixed messages over diesel vehicles has made the monthly SMMT figures useless according to one commentator. Alex Buttle, director of car website, said:

“The flight from diesel has been so severe over the past few months that total sales figures are almost meaningless as a point of reference for the health of the car industry.”

He went on to say that more needs to be done to encourage people out of diesel vehicles  which is something which is  previous governments as a cleaner alternative to petrol because of their lower CO2 emissions.

"The Government needs to take note and put its full backing behind alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) progression by offering more incentives for the consumer,” Mr Buttle said.

“When it taxed diesels in the Budget, it hit the car industry in one area but didn't go far enough in other areas. AFVs are the future.”

Wider economic uncertainty related to Brexit is continuing to hold back consumer confidence. Chief economic adviser to EY ITEM Club, Howard Archer, said

“squeezed, uncertain consumers are reluctant to make major purchases”, adding that “consumer confidence fell to its equal lowest level since December 2013 in November with a sharp drop in the major purchase index”.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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