United Kingdom vehicle registrations drop 15 per cent in March

Car dealer forecourt

Diesel vehicles are known to emit lower levels of Carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles, thus helping to reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and have therefore enjoyed favourable taxation rates compared to petrol cars.

The UK new vehicle market fell for the 12 month in a row in March, with registrations down 15.7% year on year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "A decline in the important plate change month of March is a concern and we need the right economic conditions to restore market stability and encourage buyers to invest in new commercial vehicles".

There were 245,446 units registered to fleet and business last month, compared to 288,618 units during March 2017, equating to a market share of nearly 52%.

Government legislation has turned people away from diesel cars, as a push for electric is underway.

March is a plate-change month, which typically drives a spike in demand, but the SMMT pointed out that it was always going to be tough to beat last March, when new auto registrations hit a record high as consumers brought forward purchases to beat a tax rise which came into force in April 2017.

"While the mammoth 15.7% decline on March previous year can be, in part, attributed to consumers rushing to beat the changes to VED that came into force in April 2017, the ongoing bafflingly negative narrative has talked the sector into retreat", he said.

The overall market fell by approximately 12 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

"Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive".

"Whereas, I think that what the government wanted to say was "go ahead and buy new diesel cars until alternative new fuels are available but in the meantime get rid of the old ones".

The SMMT argues that the utilising all fuel types can help reduce air pollution with the real target being consumers who hold on to older, more polluting vehicles.

In the first quarter of this year 146,614 of these vehicles hit British roads, an increase of 2.7%, as the inclement weather appeared to lead to a boost in registrations. However there is still confusion with no fourth year benefit in kind tables known, the new WLTP emissions testing and the introduction of Clean Air Zones.

"Greater clarity is essential and it's important that government tax policy and the green agenda complement each other in working towards the common goal of reducing NOx and Carbon dioxide emissions".

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