Just 13 per cent of drivers say they are now likely to buy diesel, according to a new report from Close Brothers Motor Finance, with sales particularly sluggish in the new car market.
Car dealers have also reported a shift in attitudes with almost half saying their customers are shunning diesel because of a combination of the emissions scandal, this month’s tax hike on diesel motors and fear of future government crackdowns on high-polluting cars.
From April 1, new diesel cars started costing between £15 and £520 more in Vehicle Excise Duty for the first year of ownership.
However, in the second year they will revert to standard VED rates of £140 a year for petrol or diesel vehicles, £130 a year for alternative fuel vehicles such as hybrids, bioethanol and LPG, and nothing for vehicles with zero CO2 emissions.
Diesel cars were the most popular option just five years ago, when they made up 52 per cent of sales against 45 per cent for petrol, a figure that plummeted to 38 per cent last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Retailers.
Sean Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said sales are suffering as alternative fuels have become the forecourt heroes: “However, there is still demand for diesel cars, particularly from high mileage customers who value the fuel economy.”
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