Unfair demonisation of diesel is taking its toll on UK car sales

  09 January 2018

The long standing demonisation of diesel by consecutive governments has finally taken its toll on the UK car industry, with a drop in sales will negatively impact the UK car market for years to come.

So says Chris Green, CRO of consumer car management expert Regit, who has been vocal on the demonisation of diesel for considerable time. He says that scandalous measures to largely exempt commercial vehicles from new taxes, as well as the weak building of infrastructure for EV vehicles, has left potential car buyers in limbo.

“There are no new diesel models forecast to replace such a large volume of cars and with manufacturers stating they will not be in full EV production until 2021 at the very earliest, consumers don’t yet see practical replacements for their current model,” he says. “So I fully expect this demonisation to impact the UK car market for the next three to four years.

“This sales hit has been the result of successive governments continuing to punish diesel drivers without offering any real incentives for them to upgrade and purchase a more environmentally friendly model,” he continues. “As a result, many consumers will now run their existing models into the ground and this worrying collapse of UK car sales will continue to impact the market until serious spending on EV infrastructure at a national level begins.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes adds: “Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals. Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.

Alex Buttle, director of car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk, says: “As sales of new diesels continue to fall, 2017 could well mark the end of one era of motoring and the dawn of a new one, as hybrid and electric sales start to take off.”

But he adds: “There is still not enough being done to incentivise car owners to switch to hybrid or electric cars. And if new car sales are going to get back on track, it feels like the car industry needs to introduce more generous subsidies for AFVs and more clarity in the Government’s commitment to improving electric charging networks.”

With franchised car retailers reporting that consumers remain interested in buying new cars but that they are demanding more clarity on areas such as diesel and taxation, NFDA director Sue Robinson says: “The significant growth of the alternative fuel vehicles segment is particularly encouraging. However, as petrol and diesel still represent the vast majority of UK’s car parc, it is crucial that consumers and businesses continue to receive consistent support to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.”

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