Demand for diesel vehicles slumped by almost a third last month, resulting in the eighth consecutive month in falling new car sales.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed just under 62,000 new diesels were driven from showrooms in November – 30.6% down on the same month in 2016.
The lobby group for UK carmakers said that while that decline drove overall sales 11% lower year on year, higher petrol car sales helped offset that figure.
It reported 5% growth in petrol while alternatively-fuelled vehicles rose 33.1% to account for 5.4% of the market.
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The SMMT said the figures reflected Government policy, which includes the ambition of banning the sale of new all petrol and diesel engine cars by 2040.
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Last month’s Budget also introduced a car tax rise from April next year on new diesels which fail to meet new emissions standards.
Government efforts to meet EU environmental targets have piled more pressure on an industry still reeling in the UK from the country’s Brexit vote – insisting the divorce settlement does not result in trade tariffs.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence 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.
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“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.
“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.”