United Kingdom vehicle sales in October down for seventh consecutive month

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The new vehicle market has been declining for a while now, and the new auto registration figures for October 2017 - just released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) - show the decline, especially for diesel cars, continuing.

"This is being compounded by confusion over Government policy on diesel", he said.

The industry body said auto registrations dropped 12.2% year-on-year to 158,192 last month - the second double-digit decline this year.

United Kingdom auto sales plummeted again in October, as industry figures blamed the slide on collapsing consumer confidence and an over-hyped campaign against diesel. The SMMT has now called on the government to reassure consumers that "the latest, low emission diesel cars will not face any bans or restrictions".

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United Kingdom new vehicle market declines again in October - down -12.2% to 158,192 units.

Meanwhile, petrol registrations were up by 2.7% during the same period, while cars known as Alternative Fuel Vehicles, or AFVs - mostly hybrids and electric cars - shot up by a massive 36.9%.

Year-to-date, fleet and business registrations now stand at 1,231,693 units, 3% lower than the 1,270,103 cars registered in the first 10 months of 2016.

"Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new auto market but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel", said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

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While the SMMT's loyalty to diesel is understandable, Alex Buttle, an industry expert at comparison website Motorway.co.uk, wondered if it was a lost cause as consumers were not listening to rhetoric about cleaner diesel models.

Demand for diesel vehicles plunged 29.9 per cent in October as a result. Diesel cars make up 39.4% and AFVs 5.2%.

In the summer, the government outlined proposals to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in towns and cities across the country, which contained a commitment to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-only cars - albeit by 2040 (see airqualitynews.com story).

The SMMT urged the government to use this month's autumn budget to restore stability to the market and encourage the purchase of the latest low emission vehicles. "We're still seeing a good level of enquiries, on a par with last year, so there's still potential for the market to recover slightly at the end of the year". "(And) with the change in exchange rates many manufacturers are looking at the United Kingdom and saying this is no longer treasure island - we're not going to invest quite so much.

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