Economy

Biggest drop in almost 10 years for new vehicle sales

Biggest drop in almost 10 years for new vehicle sales

The carmaker - now owned by France's PSA Groupe, which also makes Peugeots and Citroens - said at the time that the move was not because of Brexit, but was instead to bring costs down in line with its "benchmark" factories in France.

New vehicle sales dropped 5.7 percent in 2017 and are set to fall even further in 2018, according to industry body the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the drop in diesel sales was "the prime cause" of the rise in Carbon dioxide emissions and that the latest low-emission diesels were "vital" in meeting climate change targets.

Sales have not fallen on this scale since 2009.

"The average Carbon dioxide figure for cars registered in 2016 was 120.1g/km, which rose to 121.04% in 2017; last year is the first year since records began in 2002 that the figure has risen year-on-year". Those to business users fell by 7.7 per cent.

If there is no clarity by the end of March they will have to start implementing "contingency plans" which could harm funding for United Kingdom operations, he added.

But buyers are still shying away from buying new diesels cars - and even green electric alternatives - because of confusion, according to data from digital analytics company Sophus3, which examines vehicle manufacturer and automotive media web traffic.

It called for clarity "now", and for the United Kingdom and European Union to confirm a transition agreement and a timescale for its implementation, in order to save jobs.

Biggest drop in almost 10 years for new vehicle sales
Biggest drop in almost 10 years for new vehicle sales

The SMMT particularly blamed a decline in consumer and business confidence, and a sharp fall in diesel sales, for the most recent fall in new vehicle registrations.

Hawes added that worries about the future of diesel, following high profile emissions scandals had fuelled the backlash against diesel cars.

New vehicle registrations have tumbled by 5.6 per cent in 2017 - the first time the United Kingdom automotive industry has seen this in six years.

"Diesel has suffered from confusion among consumers about its environmental impact, but we believe there is increasing clarity about the benefits of the latest engines", said Hawes. "The Government should stop the negativity around diesel... any drop in the market is a drop in revenues [for the Government]".

"This is bad for the industry and bad for the environment", he said.

Sales of so-called alternative fuel vehicles, which include hybrids and pure electric vehicles, were up by 4.7 per cent, from a low base, to some 119,000 cars in 2017.

Out of the 2.5 million vehicles sold in the United Kingdom in 2017, just 13,500 were battery electric, he said.

Mr Hawes called for "consistent support over infrastructure" to see an improvement, and praised the Chancellor for announcing the funding of £400m for new charging points in last November's Budget.

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