The production line at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland

Picture copyright

Automobile registrations plunged in March, based on figures from trade physique the Society of Motor Producers and Merchants (SMMT).

Preliminary knowledge reveals the UK new automobile market shrank by 15.6% final month, in contrast with March 2017.

Demand for diesel autos fell by 37%, however petrol automobile demand rose by 1%.

Nevertheless, March 2017 was a document month as customers and companies snapped up new autos forward of a change in Automobile Excise Responsibility the subsequent month.

The complete knowledge might be printed in a while Thursday morning by the SMMT.

New automobile gross sales fell for the primary time in six years in 2017, with a 5.7% lower to about 2.5 million autos.

Demand for diesel automobiles plunged by 17% final yr, which means the tempo of decline for such autos in March has greater than doubled.

At first look, this seems like deeply worrying information for the automotive trade. But it surely it is value remembering that in March 2017 new automobile registrations hit a document excessive. Consumers have been dashing to pay money for new autos forward of massive adjustments to the automobile excise obligation regime, which sharply elevated the charges payable on some automobiles.

So a direct comparability between March 2017 and final month might be a bit deceptive. However we are able to say with certainty that registrations have now been falling steadily for a complete calendar yr. The SMMT has constantly blamed financial uncertainty, which it hyperlinks to Brexit – and the collapse in diesel gross sales.

These elements nonetheless apply – and the newest figures present that the transfer away from diesel appears to have accelerated. That means that the trade’s makes an attempt to persuade customers and politicians that fashionable diesels are clear and have a future are failing badly.

By historic requirements new automobile registrations are nonetheless at fairly excessive ranges. The steep fall in March could be a glitch. Nevertheless, the general development can’t be ignored – and that’s what the trade might be fearful about.