The production line at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland

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

Preliminary information exhibits 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%.

Nonetheless, March 2017 was a report month as customers and companies snapped up new autos forward of a change in Car Excise Responsibility the subsequent month.

The complete information can be revealed afterward 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 vehicles plunged by 17% final 12 months, that means the tempo of decline for such autos in March has greater than doubled.

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

So a direct comparability between March 2017 and final month could possibly be a bit deceptive. However we will say with certainty that registrations have now been falling steadily for an entire calendar 12 months. The SMMT has constantly blamed financial uncertainty, which it hyperlinks to Brexit – and the collapse in diesel gross sales.

These components nonetheless apply – and the newest figures present that the transfer away from diesel appears to have accelerated. That implies that the trade’s makes an attempt to persuade customers and politicians that trendy 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 is perhaps a glitch. Nonetheless, the general pattern can’t be ignored – and that’s what the trade can be frightened about.