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United Kingdom auto sales fall for seventh consecutive month

07 November 2017

Demand fell by -12.2% in the month, as falling confidence among buyers continued to impact the market.

However, despite coming under some pressure, the SMMT data suggests that petrol and diesel cars still dominate the market for new vehicles, with a total of 946,537 diesel and 1,175,697 petrol cars registered for sale in the United Kingdom, and 102,369 alternatively fuelled vehicles throughout 2017.

The SMMT blamed a drop in business and consumer confidence for the fall.

Year-to-date, fleet and business registrations now stand at 1,231,693 units, 3% lower than the 1,270,103 cars registered in the first 10 months of 2016.

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As a result of the seemingly terminal decline in diesel vehicle registrations, the SMMT is calling for the government to reassure buyers that there will be no bans, charges or other restrictions place on the latest diesel cars in the future.

Meanwhile, the number of alternatively fuelled vehicles jumped 37 per cent. Diesel cars make up 39.4% and AFVs 5.2%.

But it also suggested there was confusion over Government policy on diesel, as sales of these types of cars collapsed by 29.9% - and called for action in this month's Budget to help the market.

Overall new vehicle registrations declined to 158,192, a fall of 12.2 per cent compared to the same time previous year, and sales of diesel engined auto fell even more dramatically - by a whopping 29.9 per cent.

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Diesel sales tumbled by almost 30% in October following the scandal over rigging emissions tests and political rumblings over restrictions on diesel cars.

"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".

The SMMT is now predicting full-year sales of cars will fall 4.7 per cent to 2.57m units this year, having revised down its forecast last week. According to the data, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations were up 36.9% compared to 2016, with 8,244 cars having been registered during the month.

"Whilst many - including ourselves - openly expected this correction in sales, it's more complicated to predict exactly where they will go as we move into 2018".

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However, these gains were unable to offset heavy losses in the diesel segment, as continuing consumer concerns resulted in its biggest hit yet, with demand down -29.9 per cent.

United Kingdom auto sales fall for seventh consecutive month