Diesel car sales in the UK have fallen again.
Figures from the SMMT monthly registration show a drop of 20,000 diesels in May compared with a year ago and some believe this is the beginning of the end of the diesel engine in the wake of emissions concerns.
It will come as a blow to vehicle makers who have invested millions of pounds, euros and dollars in the latest Euro6 compliant units over the last few years.
UK and European governments are tightening up on emissions tests and congestion charging and encouraging electric and hybrid vehicles in particular while petrol engines are also becoming more efficient and cleaner.
|By contrast, registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles rose a remarkable 46.7% as UK headed down a green road.
In Wales last month, new car sales declined 12.9% from 6,666 to 5,804.
Simon Benson, director of motoring services at used car website AA Cars, said of the sales figures, “May saw a continued downturn in new car registrations following the vehicle excise duty tax changes that came into place in April, although this was at a slightly lesser rate than in the previous month.
“Alongside the tax changes impacting the market, it’s natural to see many consumers deciding to hold off purchasing a new motor ahead of this month’s general election.
“Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles was back on track in May, rising significantly after a slight decline in April. Registrations rose by a hefty 46.7% month-on-month to a record market share of 4.4%.
|A study of the sales also shows a fall of 14% to private buyers and fleet sales dipped 5.3% but business users went up over 20%.
Total car sales in May were 186,265 compared to 203,585 in the same month last year.
Ford led sales as usual, well ahead of Vauxhall who have VW closing on them but the outstanding performance of May was a big jump for Infiniti models together with Aston Martin and Porsche, a significant rise by Mercedes-Benz and solid sales of MG, Hyundai, SEAT and Skoda brands.
UK Top ten May
MB C Class
MB A Class
Shaun Armstrong, managing director, car finance provider Creditplus.co.uk, said, “The impact of the General Election on new car registrations isn’t the headline here, it’s the decimation of diesel.
“May figures could well mark the beginning of the end for diesel vehicles, with new registrations down 20,000 last month.
“Buyers are ditching diesels in their droves and it’s hard to see how diesel can recover from what feels like a mortal blow.
“There is so much negative press around diesel at the moment – with proposals to introduce a toxin tax and the Government planning to launch a car scrappage scheme – it’s difficult to see anyone choosing diesel over petrol and AFVs right now.
“And these latest SMMT figures already suggest buyers are shifting their allegiance to alternative fuel vehicles, with sales of AFVs up almost 50% in May.
“We’d expect to see AFVs sales continue to rise steadily while diesel sale drop off. The question now is, can diesel recover from a terrible few months or has the death knell already been sounded?”