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Government urged not to punish diesels in Autumn Budget as registrations tumble

Diesel registrations plummeted 30% in October, leading to a call for the government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget “to restore stability to the market”.

old diesel pump

Diesel registrations plummeted 30% in October 2017

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show new car registrations last month tumbled 12.2% to 158,192 units – marking the seventh consecutive month of decline. Downturns were seen in both business confidence – with registrations among the fleet market and sub-25 ‘business’ sector down 13% and 26.8% respectively – and private registrations, which fell 10.1%.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued to rise, with an uplift of 36.9% to 8,244 units – while petrol models were up 2.7% in contrast to the 29.9% fall in the diesel segment.

Year to date, overall registrations were down 4.6% to 2,224,603 units – in line with the SMMT’s latest, more subdued forecast for 2017 – with fleet registrations down 3.0% and business numbers down 3.3%. Private registrations declined 6.4%.

Diesel registrations for the first 10 months of the year fell 14.9% while petrols rose 2.9% and AFVs were up 34.85.
In response to repeated government warnings of an announcement of a new diesel tax regime in this month’s Autumn Budget, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel. Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK.”

His comments follow last week’s announcement of the early introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone – which will require diesel vehicles to be a minimum of Euro 6-compliant – and ongoing calls for a diesel scrappage scheme to help deal with escalating air quality concerns.

Hawes added that “encouraging the purchase of the latest low-emission vehicles as fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns.”

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, backed the call for government support on diesels, adding: “Confidence in new, cleaner diesel vehicles must be restored and consumers need to understand that no town or city has plans to charge Euro 6 diesels to enter.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.