Hybrids and electric cars saw a massive boost in registrations last month at the expense of diesel.
Diesel sales dipped nearly 10%, petrol went up almost 6% but the real surprise was a 49% jump in alternatively powered models, the biggest since they entered the market several years ago, said the SMMT.
A combination of concerns over emissions and impending hefty increases for running a diesel contributed to the drop.
Overall new car sales were down 0.3% to 83,115 in what is traditionally one of the quietest months before the new registration plate kicks in. LCV sales dipped 4.3%.
In Wales, sales fell the most in the country by 15.2% last month to 2,058 new cars.
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