UK new car registrations fell by 3.4% in March, the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have shown.

While private and business car registrations fell by 2.8% and 44.8% respectively during the month, the number of vehicles registered to fleets increased by 0.3% compared with March 2018 to 223,288 units during the crucial plate-change month.

Following the trend of recent months, diesel registrations fell 21.4% while petrol demand grew by 5.1%. Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles increased by 7.6% with 25,302 registered, the biggest March volume on record, the SMMT said.

True fleet registrations dropped by 4.8%

The SMMT blamed the overall decline on diesel and Brexit uncertainty and claimed this is continuing to affect business and consumer confidence, as the industry body once again warned about the fall-out that could follow in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“March is a key barometer for the new car market, so this fall is of clear concern. While manufacturers continue to invest in exciting models and cutting-edge tech, for the UK to reap the full benefits of these advances, we need a strong market that encourages the adoption of new technology,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “That means supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation and incentives, to give buyers the confidence to invest in the new car that best meets their driving needs. Above all, we urgently need an end to the political and economic uncertainty by removing permanently the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and agreeing a future relationship that avoids any additional friction that would increase costs and hence prices.”