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European car sales accelerate, in sign diesel confusion in Britain behind UK demand falling 

The collapse in car sales in Britain has been thrown into sharp relief by Europe-wide data showing demand for new vehicles at a near 20-year high.
Registrations of new cars – a proxy for sales – across 27 European nations hit 4.27m in the first quarter, the highest level since 2000 and up 0.7pc on the same period last year.
However, while all major markets recorded strong growth or only small declines, sales in the UK plunged 12.4pc in the three-month period to 718,500.
British car makers have blamed the fall on the “demonisation” of diesel by the UK Government as it cracks down on the fuel which it says is more polluting, along with economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Diesel’s market share in the UK retreated from 44pc last year to 33.5pc in the first quarter of this year. The market share across all of Europe – which has not seen such strong action on diesel in the UK, such as taxes on the sales of new diesel cars – was down from 46pc to 38pc.
European car sales accelerate, in sign diesel confusion in Britain behind UK demand falling 

A backlash against diesel including new taxes in the UK has hit sales

Credit:
PA
The backlash against diesel in the wake of the VW scandal continues to be felt, according to JATO Dynamics, which collated the figures. However, it is not driving motorists straight into green alternatives according to global analyst Felipe Munoz.
“The diesel decline isn’t having an impact on the popularity of Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) – most consumers are turning towards gasoline cars rather than electric vehicles,” he said. AFVs’ market share went from just 4.3pc to 5.4pc of all sales.
European car sales accelerate, in sign diesel confusion in Britain behind UK demand falling 

Campaigners in Germany protest about diesel in the wake of the VW scandal

Credit:
DPA
Of the major car markets across Europe – those selling more than 100,000 vehicles in the quarter – the Netherlands saw the strongest growth, up 11.9pc to 136,500. It was followed by Spain, 11.9pc better at 346,750, then Germany, 4pc stronger at 878,500, and France, up 2.9pc at 555,000.
After a long run of increases, Italy edged back 1.3pc in the quarter to 575,500 sales. 
JATO said the data showed the European car industry was outperforming levels seen before the financial crisis. Mr Munoz added: “The increase in registrations is an encouraging sign and indicates the European car industry could continue to grow this year, though the UK continues to hold back growth.”
European car sales accelerate, in sign diesel confusion in Britain behind UK demand falling 

The prediction came as Ford’s UK boss, Andy Barratt, became the latest heavyweight from the industry to call on the British Government to clarify its position on diesel.
Calling the fuel vital to the UK economy – with almost a million diesel engines built in Britain, including at Ford’s plants – he said that modern diesels are “every bit as clean” as petrol engines.
The Ford chief also said that confusion over ministers’ stance on the fuel and fears of new taxes on it had contributed to job cuts at UK car plants as sales of diesel decline.
"There has been a lot of chaos in the signalling and in the messaging around diesel and there have been job losses," Mr Barratt said. "The poor motorist just doesn't know what to do – we need to clarify where diesel works and where it doesn't."
There was further gloom for Britain’s car makers with the release of the latest output numbers. The number of cars rolling off UK production lines in March fell 13.3pc compared with a year ago, dropping to 147,471. This follows on from a 4.4pc decline to 145,475 in February.
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