Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said at the time: "The ongoing and substantial decline in new diesel vehicle registrations is concerning, particularly since the evidence indicates consumers and businesses are not switching into alternative technologies, but keeping their older cars running".
Vauxhall cars are seen for sale at a auto show room near Vauxhall's plant in Luton, Britain, March 6, 2017.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "Although the new vehicle market has dipped, it remains at a good level despite the drop in demand for diesel".
There were 80,805 cars registered in February, a month that's traditionally lower than average due to the new plate arriving in March.
"Our recent research showed that 67% of United Kingdom drivers did not want an electric or hybrid as their next auto which is reflected in the significant increase in petrol vehicle registrations".
Although February is traditionally a quiet month for the auto industry ahead of the new number plate release, a 23.5% year-on-year fall in diesel registrations remains a large contributing factor for the fall.
However, double digit growth for petrol and AFVs has been unable to offset the move away from diesel, which now commands a 35.6% market share. A change in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) introduced last April meant that consumers rushed to buy cars in March, inflating demand. It described the slump in diesel demand as "disappointing", given that the "latest cars are the cleanest in history and can help address air quality issues".
Conversely, petrol sales were up by 14.4%, with the fuel type accounting for 48,941 cars, or 60.6% of the market - an 8.5% growth on February 2017 and key cause for the UK's recent growth in automotive Carbon dioxide emissions per auto.
Sales of cars to privates fell 2 per cent last month, suggesting that squeezed, uncertain consumers are still reluctant to make major purchases.
'Whether or not this is due to Brexit is hard to say, but the automotive industry needs certainty in order to maximise new auto sales growth'.