Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Consumers 'sending clear message to vehicle industry' over diesel engines

Consumers 'sending clear message to vehicle industry' over diesel engines

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT, said that 2017 had been a "very volatile year" and further warned that the vehicle market could weaken more this year.

Additionally the alternatively fuelled vehicle market has continued to surge, with 119,821 new cars registered in 2017, compared to 88,891 in 2016, an increase of 34.8%. "This was still the third best year in a decade and the sixth best ever".

Confusion over the cleanliness and tax position of diesel cars - and a big fall in their sales - is behind the increase.

Diesel sales are suffering across Europe since the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal in 2015-last year in France the share of new diesels dropped below 50% for the first time in 17 ears.

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Added to the sales drop and sure to give the government some pause for thought is the 0.8 percent increase in Carbon dioxide emissions among new cars sold in the United Kingdom - industry experts had warned that the increasing unpopularity of diesel would lead to an increase in average Carbon dioxide emissions following 17 straight years of decreases.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, said turning the sharp decline at the end of 2017 into a loss of just 5-7% in 2018 will be a "real challenge" for the industry.

The industry talks about a short-sighted backlash against new technology, which is encouraging people to stick with older, dirtier cars - and preventing sales of newer, cleaner models.

Diesel vehicles produce the overwhelming majority of nitrogen oxide gases coming from roadside sources.

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It didn't just expose deliberate wrongdoing at one company, it also showed how many diesel cars, which had passed official tests, were routinely producing much higher levels of toxic emissions when driven on the roads.

He said Government plans to ban the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2040, along with a auto tax hike on new diesel models in November's Budget, had damaged demand.

The increase makes it harder for manufacturers to meet an European Union target of 95 grams per kilometre by 2021.

Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, including electric and hybrid vehicles, saw a rise of 34.8% to nearly 120,000.

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However, Mr Hawes told the programme that while electric cars were seen as the future, they still accounted for a very small proportion of total sales.

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