During the month a total of 163,615 new cars were registered – a proxy for car purchases. It was the ninth month running sales have declined.
Worries about the health of the economy caused buyers to hold off, and the fall was compounded by continued confusion about Government policy towards diesel in the wake of the Volkswagen “dieselgate” scandal Concerns about pollution pumped out by diesel cars has driven buyers away
At the Budget measures were introduced to try to tax diesel off the roads by introducing a charge on the sale of new vehicles because of concerns they produce more nitrous oxide pollution than petrol vehicles.
This contributed to the 25.6pc drop in sales of diesel vehicles during January, reducing the market share of diesel cars to 35.9pc.
The plunge in motorists’ appetite for diesel more than offset rises in the sale of petrol and electric cars, dragging the overall figure lower.