Ahead of the General Election new car sales tumbled by -8.5 per cent, according to new figures by SMMT.
Diesel cars took the biggest hit in May with a 20 per cent decline in registrations last month, compared to the same time in the previous year.
Overall the UK car market took a hit with -8.5 per cent less registrations with figures tumbling from 203,585 to 186,265.
Private cars sales saw a 14 per cent decline in registrations and 5.3 per cent less Fleet vehicles were registered.
It was, however, a positive month for both business and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV).
Business vehicle registrations saw a 20.1 per cent increase in registrations from 5,042 in 2016 to 6,054 in 2017.
Alternatively fuelled vehicles saw the greatest increase in registrations from 5,631 in 2016 to 8,258 in 2017 – an increase of 46.7 per cent.
Now, AFVs represent a market share of 4.4 per cent, which is new record.
Almost 50,000 new AFVS have been registered in Britain now showing a new trend in the UK car market as motorists look to low emissions vehicles for more sustainable, eco-friendly vehicles.
Diesel car sales in the UK have plummeted ahead of General Election in 2017
Despite a dip of -0.6% in overall registrations since January, more than 1.1 million new cars have been registered on UK roads so far in 2017.
Can diesel recover from a terrible few months or has the death knell already been sounded?
Business and fleet sectors have driven demand, up 5.3% and 2.4% respectively to offset a decline from private buyers of -4.2%.
However, more than half a million new cars have been registered by private buyers since the start of the year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “We expected demand in the new car market to remain negative in May due to the pull-forward to March – which was an all-time record month – resulting from VED reform.
“Added to this, the general election was always likely to give many pause for thought and affect purchasing patterns in the short term.
The decline in diesel car sales has been described as a ‘decimation’
“Although demand has fallen, it’s important to remember that the market remains at a very high level and, with a raft of new models packed with the latest low emission and connected technology coming to market this summer, we expect the market to remain strong over the year.”
Shaun Armstrong, managing director, car finance provider Creditplus.co.uk, comments:
“The impact of the General Election on new car registrations isn’t the headline here, it’s the decimation of diesel.
Electric car registrations have increased by 46.7 per cent
“May figures could well mark the beginning of the end for diesel vehicles, with new registrations down 20,000 last month.
“Buyers are ditching diesels in their droves and it’s hard to see how diesel can recover from what feels like a mortal blow.
“There is so much negative press around diesel at the moment – with proposals to introduce a toxin tax and the Government planning to launch a car scrappage scheme – it’s difficult to see anyone choosing diesel over petrol and AFVs right now.
“And these latest SMMT figures already suggest buyers are shifting their allegiance to alternative fuel vehicles, with sales of AFVs up almost 50% in May.
“We’d expect to see AFVs sales continue to rise steadily while diesel sale drop off.
“The question now is, can diesel recover from a terrible few months or has the death knell already been sounded?”