Diesel dive
Last month 27,000 fewer diesel cars were registered compared with November 2016
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  • UK diesel registrations down 30.6% – more than 27,000 fewer cars – on November 2016
  • UK new car demand falls 11.2% in November to 163,541 units.
  • Scottish registrations down 24.2%, England 10.2%
  • Small increases in demand for petrol and AFVs.
  • Year-to-date market declines, with registrations down 5.0% “in line with expectations”.

A 30% DIESEL dive in new car demand with 27,000 fewer diesel cars sold in the month was key in the continuing decline in UK new car registrations in November, down 11.2% overall year-on-year.

It was blamed on “falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government” by Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which published the figures.

A total of 163,541 vehicles were registered, driven down by the significant fall in diesel demand, down more than 27,000 diesel cars on November 2016, with year-to-date diesel registrations down by a staggering 193,281 or 16.1%.

But there was a regional factor too, with Scotland seeing a 24.2% drop at 11,585 registrations against 15,278 in November 2016. Wales was down 10.4% and England down 10.2% with Northern Ireland virtually unchanged.

Month EndMonth End Last Year% ChangeYear To DateYear To Date Last Year% Change
N. IRELAND3,1343,130+0.152,55655,275-4.9


The company car sector was deterred by the government’s lack of guidance on diesels, compounded just a week before the end of the month with an Autumn Budget penalising just the newest, cleanest, diesels from April 2018.

Fleet (the biggest sector) was down 14.4% and business down 33.6%, while the private sector dipped 5.1%.

Registrations fell across all body types except specialist sports, which grew 6.7%. The biggest declines were seen in the executive and mini segments, which decreased 22.2% and 19.8% respectively, while demand in the supermini segment contracted by 15.4%.

There was significant growth in the Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) sector, up 33.1%, but from a smaller base that was only up 2,208 cars year-on-year. Petrol cars also saw a gain, though of a more modest 5.0% or 4,397 cars  for a total up 38,050 year-to-date.

There was no way these increases could offset the dramatic 30.6% diesel dive in registrations. The decline follows months of confusion and speculation about the government’s air quality plans and its policies towards diesel cars.

Overall, registrations have declined 5.0% in the 11 months in 2017, with 2,388,144 cars hitting British roads so far this year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government.

“Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower COemissions.

“The decision to tax the latest low emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars.

“Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counterproductive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences.”

As to the top-selling models, new Fiesta continues to rule the charts, chased by VW Golf and then MINI of the seven different manufacturers in the top ten – but not Vauxhall, although Corsa and Astra hold fifth and sixth overall in the year-to-date figures.

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