The market share for cars with lower CO2 emissions is continuing to increase, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says.
Figures released by the SMMT revealed the market share for cars with lower CO2 emissions increased by more than 65 per cent in January.
New car sales fell by 11.5 per cent to 128,811 last month, compared with January 2010. The decline was in line with SMMT’s forecast and partly reflected the ending of the car scrappage scheme, it said.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said January's fall in new car sales marked the beginning of a challenging year for the UK motor industry.
“Consumer confidence is low and it is important that Government uses the March Budget to help relieve some of the financial pressure on motorists by freezing fuel duty, while providing stability and certainty on motoring taxes. Despite the challenging conditions, the demand for low CO2 emitting and highly fuel-efficient cars continues to grow.”
Just over 65,000 new diesel cars were sold in the UK last month compared with almost 62,000 petrol models, said the SMMT.
The SMMT said last month's rise in VAT to 20 per cent also had an effect on sales, as well as uncertainty over the economy, although the industry group mainly blamed last year's ending of the scrappage scheme, under which motorists were offered a discount on new cars for trading-in older models.
In January last year, almost one in five new cars were sold through the scrappage scheme, and the SMMT said it expected the knock-on effect to hit the market during the first six months of 2011. Total sales volumes are now forecast to fall by 5 per cent this year, to 1.93 million.
Private car sales showed the steepest decline last month, although fleet and business sales were also down. Demand for smaller cars, a market particularly boosted by the scrappage scheme, fell sharply last month, while the executive, luxury and dual purpose sector recovered strongly, said the SMMT.
UK-built cars took a 12.9 per cent share of the market, unchanged from a year ago, while alternative fuelled vehicles matched their record share of 1.4 per cent.
The Ford Focus was the best selling new car last month with 7,582 registrations, followed by the Ford Fiesta (5,844), Vauxhall Astra (4,510), Vauxhall Corsa (4,363), VW Golf (4,110), BMW 3 Series (3,184), VW Polo (3,010), Vauxhall Insignia (2,236), Peugeot 207 (2,171) and Nissan Qashqai (2,108).