Industry body blames concern over diesel legislation for shrinking new car market.

A key automotive industry organisation has called on the government to ‘restore confidence’ in newer, cleaner diesel engines as the new car market continues to shrink.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that the market fell by more than 12 percent in October, largely thanks to a 29.9 percent drop in demand for diesel-powered cars.

It’s the seventh consecutive month in which demand has fallen, leaving this year’s total registrations some 4.6 percent lower than at the same point in 2016.

The SMMT, which represents car manufacturers and dealerships, said the results were partly caused by a reduction in consumer confidence, but that concern over any forthcoming government air quality legislation was also having an impact.

Mike Hawes, the organisation’s chief executive, said: ‘Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market, but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel.’

Hawes, who has previously described modern, Euro 6-compliant diesel engines as ‘the cleanest ever’, also said the government needed to use this month’s Autumn Budget to bolster drivers’ confidence in the fuel, which has been at the centre of a media storm for some months.

‘Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions anywhere in the UK,’ he said. ‘We urge the Government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low-emission vehicles is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns.’

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