Figures from the SMMT reveal new car registrations fell by 5.7 per cent in 2017 amid falling business and consumer confidence.
Approximately 2.54 million new cars were registered in 2017 compared with 2.69 million the previous year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
December saw an even sharper decline of 14.4 per cent with demand for diesels falling by 17.1 per cent over the year amid accusations of damaging government confusion over its policy on diesel cars.
Commenting on the figures, Britain’s largest union, Unite warned of a deeply worrying trend and called on the government to provide ‘Brexit certainty’.
Tony Burke. Unite assistant general secretary, says: “The latest car registration figures confirm a deeply worrying trend that will leave the UK’s world class car workers looking to the year ahead with trepidation.
“The government has caused confusion and damage with its policy on diesel cars and needs to start listening to the industry and workforce. Diesel engines produced by Unite members in the UK are the cleanest in the world.
“Ministers’ botched and badly thought through announcements are causing major damage to the industry. Combined with economic and Brexit uncertainty this risks taking the sheen off the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown and the 800,000 high skilled jobs it sustains.
“Car workers and manufacturing communities will be looking to the government to get the economy out of the slow lane in the year ahead and provide certainty over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe in order to unlock stalling car manufacturer investment.
“A failure by ministers to do so will jeopardise the UK’s status as world leader in car manufacturing and undo the hard work of Britain’s car workers.”