The slowdown on the British car market continued in October, as confusion about diesel and Brexit uncertainty put pressure on registrations of new vehicles for the seventh consecutive month.
Data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Monday showed that new car registrations dropped by 2.9 percent in October to 153,599, driven by a 21 percent decline in diesel registrations to 62,366.
Although the registration of hybrid and plug-ins increased by 30.7 percent, the SMME indicated that the outlook for these more environmentally friendly vehicles "lagged behind governmental ambitions".
The October figure follows a decline of 9.3 percent in September, which is a traditionally strong month for car sales. In the calendar year so far, new car registrations have dropped by 7.2 percent, with new diesel cars at 30.7 percent.
"Unrest in vehicle taxes, regulatory changes and confusion about diesel have all left their mark on the market this year, but it's good to see that plug-in registrations are breaking the trend, but the demand is still far from the levels needed to compensate for losses elsewhere, and makes the government's decision to dispel purchasing incentives astonishing, "said SMMT executive Mike Hawes.
Demand for diesel cars has shrunk since the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015, and in July Secretary of State Michael Gove said the UK government was planning to sell new petrol and diesel cars in Britain by 2040 to prohibit.
"We need policies that encourage rather than confuse." The upcoming review by the government of WLTP's impact on taxes should ensure that buyers of the latest, cleanest cars are not unfairly penalized, otherwise we will be older. "More polluting cars" stay on the road longer, "said Mr. Hawes.
The uncertainty about Brexit has also put consumer confidence in the UK under pressure, while car manufacturers have repeatedly warned about the damage to the industry that could cause a no-deal outcome and a slowdown in investments that have already begun.
"A lack of stock, confusion around WLTP and economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit continue to keep dealers awake during the night, and we see a number of manufacturers reducing their targets by the end of the year, recognizing the challenges of selling of cars at the moment, "said Seán Kemple, sales director at Close Brothers Motor Finance.
While an increase in real wages, as inflation declines, should support the sale of cars in the future, "until households can be certain that a no-deal Brexit will not take place next year, the car sales are likely to remain at their current low levels, "said Samuel Tombs, head of British economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.