The production line at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland

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

Preliminary information exhibits the UK new automotive market shrank by 15.6% final month, in contrast with March 2017.

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

Nevertheless, March 2017 was a file month as shoppers and companies snapped up new autos forward of a change in Automobile Excise Responsibility the following month.

The total information will probably be printed in a while Thursday morning by the SMMT.

New automotive 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, which means the tempo of decline for such autos in March has greater than doubled.

At first look, this appears to be like like deeply worrying information for the automotive business. However it it is price remembering that in March 2017 new automotive registrations hit a file excessive. Patrons have been dashing to pay money for new autos forward of massive modifications to the automobile excise responsibility regime, which sharply elevated the charges payable on some vehicles.

So a direct comparability between March 2017 and final month may very well 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 elements nonetheless apply – and the most recent figures present that the transfer away from diesel appears to have accelerated. That means that the business’s makes an attempt to persuade shoppers and politicians that trendy diesels are clear and have a future are failing badly.

By historic requirements new automotive registrations are nonetheless at fairly excessive ranges. The steep fall in March is perhaps a glitch. Nevertheless, the general pattern can’t be ignored – and that’s what the business will probably be nervous about.