April 5, 2018 / 8:12 AM / a year ago

UK diesel sales slump by more than a third in key selling month March

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Demand for new diesel cars in Britain nosedived by more than a third in March, generally the top selling month of the year, pushing down total registrations by 15.7 percent, according to data from an industry body.

Sales were inflated in March last year, when customers brought forward purchases to beat a tax rise, meaning the sector had expected a drop as demand in Europe’s second-biggest car market cools.

Registrations stood at 474,069 vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with demand down among business and individual buyers.

Sales of diesel cars have slumped in many European countries as regulators and politicians crack down on the segment with plans for bans, levies and additional taxes in many cities.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes defended the need for new, clean diesel models.

“All technologies, regardless of fuel type, have a role to play in helping improve air quality whilst meeting our climate change targets, so government must do more to encourage consumers to buy new vehicles rather than hang onto their older, more polluting vehicles,” he said. (Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Andy Bruce)

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