The number of new cars registered fell for the fourth consecutive month, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

In June, registrations were down by 4.9% to 223,421 units compared with the same month in 2018, while 1,269,245 new cars joined British roads in the first half of the year, down 3.4% with the SMMT blaming ongoing confusion over low emission zones and diesel, the removal of key ultra-low emission vehicle incentives and an overall decline in buyer confidence affected the market.

Fleet registrations in June fell by 2.5%, while fleet figures for the first six months of 2019 are down by 1.0% compared with the first six months of 2018.

True fleet registrations dropped by 4.8%

The month saw growth for petrol and battery electric registrations, up 3.0% and 61.7% respectively, however this did not offset the continuing decline of diesel, which fell for the 27th month in a row – by 20.5% in June.

Plug-in hybrid registrations also continued the recent downward trend, falling by 50.4%, while hybrids also fell, by -4.7%.

The SMMT said this performance tipped the overall alternatively fuelled vehicle sector into negative growth for the first time since April 2017, “undermining efforts to reduce emissions through fleet renewal of the latest ultra-low emission vehicles.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Another month of decline is worrying but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern. Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives. If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure. Fleet renewal remains the quickest way to address environmental concerns today and consumers should have the confidence – and support – to choose the new car that best meets their driving needs, whatever the technology, secure in the knowledge that it is safer and cleaner than ever before.”