The number of new cars sold in the UK in March fell by 15.7% compared with last year, as buyers continued to avoid buying new diesel cars.
Although March's drop in sales is a sharper decline than we've seen in previous months, that's partly because March 2017 was the biggest month ever for new car sales as buyers seized the chance to purchase cars before the new car tax (VED) rates we introduced last April.
More than 474,000 cars were sold in March 2018, with sales of diesel cars down by more than 37%. This decline can partly be blamed on the continuing uncertainty surrounding new diesel cars – including the new tax implications announced in November's autumn budget.
Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles – which include hybrids and electric cars – were up by 5.7% compared with March 2017, with demand for plug-in hybrids driving the growth with an increase in sales of 18.2%. No car classes saw an increase in volume for the month, but family cars held up the strongest, accounting for more than 34% of sales, while the biggest declines hit MPVs and luxury cars.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said: "March’s decline is not unexpected given the huge surge in registrations in the same month last 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.
"Consumer and business confidence, however, has taken a knock in recent months and a thriving new car market is essential to the overall health of our economy. The government must do more to encourage consumers to buy new vehicles rather than hang onto their older, more polluting vehicles.”
Click through this slideshow to see the top 10 best-selling new cars in the UK for March.