New car registrations fell for the 11th consecutive month in the UK, although the decline slowed in February.
The 80,805 new car sales represents a 2.8 per cent drop in sales compared to February 2017. In January the market fell 6.3 per cent compared with a year earlier.
The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have sparked renewed calls for government clarity on the future of diesels and for more incentives for buyers to move to alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV).
Februaryâ€™s figures continue the trend of previous months with petrol and AFV sales rising 14.4 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively in the face of a 23.5 per cent slump in diesel sales.
Year-on-year sales of diesels are now down almost 10 per cent but Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT has tried to reassure buyers that the latest diesel are clean and not subject to the latest toxicity and pollution charges.
“Until there is greater guidance from the government on diesel and plans for the future electric car charging infrastructure, the industry will continue to face pressures”
James Hind, Carwow
He commented: â€œAlthough the new car market has dipped, it remains at a good level despite the drop in demand for diesel. Consumers should be reassured, however, that the latest cars are the cleanest in history and can help address air quality issues, which is why they are exempt from any restrictions.
â€œLooking ahead to the crucial number plate change month of March, we expect a further softening, given March 2017 was a record as registrations were pulled forward to avoid VED changes.â€
James Hind, CEO of independent car buying site Carwow commented: â€œThere is still so much confusion in regards to the future of diesel that, en lieu of greater clarity from the Government, the industry has to use multiple ways to drive sales.
â€œUntil there is greater guidance from the government on diesel and plans for the future electric car charging infrastructure, the industry will continue to face pressures. Right now, too many potential buyers are confused and therefore hesitant to commit to a purchase.â€
Alex Buttle, director of comparison website Motorway.co.uk said that the figures showed more had to be done to promote AFV as viable purchases.
“Although AFV sales are rising, the uptake simply isn’t fast enough. While hybrid and electric sales were up 7.2 per cent in February, petrol sales were up 14.4 per cent. That should set alarm bells ringing in government but the bells are worryingly silent.
“Car owners are confused about what they should be doing and what their purchasing choices are across petrol, Euro 6 diesels and AFVs.
“If the Government were more insistent about the need to switch, and started offering subsidies for AFV car purchases, then I’m sure we would see more car owners switching. But there’s a lot of silence and very little action, so consumers don’t see any reason to buy AFVst.”