Diesel market falls over pollution fears

Rising fears over air pollution in the UK has contributed to a decline in the number of new diesel cars registered in May.

Figures, released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), highlight a significant fall in market share from 50 per cent to 43.7 per cent, as a 20 per cent decline from May 2016 registrations saw approximately 81,500 new diesel cars registered in the UK in Ma7 this year.

Air pollution has been linked to an estimated 40,000 early deaths a year, with 37 out of 43 areas across the UK currently exceeding legal EU limits of nitrogen dioxide, much of which comes from diesel engines.

There is no clear government strategy on diesel, with negative publicity surrounding the impact of diesel-fuelled vehicles on the environment and people’s health gaining more attention with the UK government taken to court over its policies by Client Earth.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We expected demand in the new car market to remain negative in May due to the pull-forward to March – which was an all-time record month – resulting from VED reform. Added to this, the general election was always likely to give many pause for thought and affect purchasing patterns in the short term.”

Areeba Hamid, a transport campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “The drop in the sales of diesel cars is no accident, and it is happening all over Europe. People are consciously choosing to buy cleaner vehicles as they no longer want to be complicit in our cities’ pollution problem and condemning our children to the health impacts it causes.

“But car companies remain incorrigible, still selling us brand new diesel cars that pollute up to 15 times more than they are supposed to. Cleaner technology exists. Instead of lobbying for weaker standards and gaming tests, car manufacturers need to ditch diesel altogether and go electric. This data shows that buyers are beginning to do just that, what are the car manufacturers waiting for?”

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