Car Sales fall again as UK consumers shun diesels

New UK car registrations were down 2.8% in February from a year earlier, hit by another fall in the sale of diesel vehicles.

The society of motor manufacturers and traders, the industry's trade body, said sales totalled 80,805 last month.

Demand for Diesels fell by 23.5%, while sales of petrol cars rose 14.4%.

However last months fall which comes ahead of the key number plate change in March, was not a steep and the 9.7% decline seen in January.

SMMT chief Mike Hawes said the industry's expected a "further softening" of sales in March.

Sales of Alternatively- fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose 7.2% year on year driven by some new, smaller models coming on the market.

The strong growth in sales of petrol cars and AFVs has been unable to offset the move away from diesel, which has now slid to a 35.6% market share.

Signs of recovery?

Mr Hawes said: "Although 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."

Although car sales were down in February some economists said there were grounds for optimism.

False emissions ratings cost UK more than £2bn a year

Some new diesel models emit 12 times legal limit, while others are the cleanest cars on the road

False emission ratings for cars based on lab tests have cost the UK more than £2bn a year in lost tax revenue, according to the green party.

With CO2 emissions exceeding official measures by an average of 42%, millions of vehicles have been placed in tax bands, that do not reflect there true levels of pollution, according to a new research published earlier this week.

Since 2001, vehicle exercise duty has been based on carbon emissions. Cars registered before April 2017 and producing less than 100g of CO2 per km are exempt, with the rate rising to £535 for the most polluting cars.

Analysis for the green party in Europe shows that car taxes would of been more than £10bn higher across 11 EU Countries last year, with the UK being one of the main losers due to its large car fleet and graded tax system. 

The report estimated a loss of over £2bn in the UK in 2016, based on only new vehicles registered since 2010, which make up half of the cars now on the road.

Further calls for road tax to better reflect the pollution have come this week after independent testing revealed some new diesel models, certified as Euro 6 compliant, emit more than 12 times the legal limit of NOx in real world conditions.

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