Diesel cars faced a sales slump for the 31st consecutive month, according to figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While petrol cars faced a 3.2% drop in sales, alternatively fuelled vehicles have gathered momentum and account for a record 9.9% of the market.

Their sales have been boosted by a 151.8% increase in demand for electric vehicles when compared to October 2018.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies.

“The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.”

SMMT’s figures paint a bleak picture for the car industry, as sales over the first 10 months of 2019 are down 2.9% when compared to last year.

September 2019 saw a 1.3% increase in overall car sales, largely due to a steep slump in the same month in 2018.  However, this was the lowest growth rate among the major European markets.

Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, believes low consumer confidence is to blame for poor sales:

“Consumer confidence in the economy fell to its joint-lowest point in six years last month and historically, there’s always been a clear correlation between the two, given the value of the purchase.

‘This is particularly true for retail consumers and it’s also where we’ve seen the biggest decline in October.

‘Brexit is the driving force of this lack in confidence, with continued uncertainty around our exit from the EU. The upcoming General Election will continue to cause further uncertainty around consumer purchase intentions.”

October’s figures come after experts predicted an electric vehicle sales surge earlier this year.

In May 2019, the RAC announced plans to help drivers combat fears around EV range anxiety by developing the UK’s first ever lightweight EV charger.

A growing number of our orange patrol vans are now equipped with these chargers, which can give stranded, out-of-charge cars a boost to help them continue their journey.

New car registrations, October 2019

  1. Ford Fiesta: 5,138
  2. Nissan Qashqai: 4,084
  3. Volkswagen Golf: 3,976
  4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class: 3,630
  5. Ford Focus: 3,585
  6. Ford Kuga: 3,041
  7. Kia Sportage: 2,588
  8. Volkswagen Tiguan: 2,547
  9. Volkswagen Polo: 2,191
  10. Range Rover Evoque: 2,134

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