The past year has seen the arrival of some truly great cars so you’d be forgiven for simply assuming that the new car market was in rude health. After all, it wasn’t long ago that we told you 2016 was a record year for new car sales.

However, what goes up must come down and July was the fourth month running that new car registrations dropped.

17 plate

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – the group responsible for collecting and publishing new car sales – reports that 161,997 new cars were registered in July – 9.3 per cent fewer than in the same month last year.

Sales were down across the board with flatter demand from business, fleet and private buyers alike (-23.8, -10.1 and -6.8 per cent respectively).

Most notably, diesel registrations were down by a fifth on last July while petrol sales slipped by just three per cent.

In contrast, registrations of alternatively fuelled cars leaped a whopping 64.9 per cent in July, shaping a 31.4 per cent increase for the year so far.

Nissan Leaf

This can only be attributed to July’s announcement that sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be outlawed from 2040, following months of speculation about government policies surrounding diesels.

Over ten years ago, diesels were championed by the government due to their lower CO2 emissions and stronger fuel economy, but today, they’re vilified for their elevated nitrous oxide output, which is considered to be more harmful than CO2.

As such, the demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) has soared as consumers redirect their efforts to invest in the latest low-emission fuel technology. AFVs claimed a new record 5.5% market share in July, with 8,871 new units driven off forecourts. Additionally, close to 70,000 new AFVs have joined UK roads this year.

Tesla Model S

The shadowy uncertainty caused by Brexit hasn’t helped new car sales overall either in the view of SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit,” he commented.

“While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans”.

Mr Hawes added that consumers should be mindful that the petrol/diesel ban won’t take effect for another two decades, before pointing out that deflated new car sales will inevitably result in massive price reductions.

In the light of these inevitable hot deals, what would be top of your shopping list? Tell us down there in the comments.

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