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Britain Under the Bonnet finds UK motorists are driving away from diesel

12 April 2018


More than two thirds of drivers (67%) say that they are less likely to purchase a diesel car after the VW scandal of 2015, according to an upcoming report from Close Brothers Motor Finance.

According to the SMMT, five years ago diesel-powered motors were the nation’s vehicle of choice, commanding 52% of market share to petrol’s 45%. However, the VW emissions scandal and the government’s announcement of the ban of new fossil fuel cars by 2040, has dented consumer confidence in diesel cars, resulting in total sales plummeting steeply in 2017 to 38%.

According to the upcoming Britain Under the Bonnet report, the current consumer stance on diesel is corroborated by dealers, who are seeing these changes on the forecourt. Almost half (45%) said their customers have been shunning diesel cars as a result of the negative publicity around the vehicles and the tax hike that came into force this month. 

Indeed, when asked what type of car they are most likely to opt for, just 13% of our drivers said diesel. However, there is likely to be a lag before this shift affects the used car market as strongly. Previous research from the SMMT shows that there is a shift from new to used cars, as new car sales have continuously declined over the past year in comparison to used car sales . 

Seán Kemple, Director of Sales, Close Brothers Motor Finance comments: “The number of days to takes to sell a car has remained static for petrol on used forecourts, with diesel suffering, and alternative fuels becoming the forecourt heroes. The ongoing decline in new diesel car registrations since the VW scandal in 2015 and government’s increased commitment to clean air through banning all fossil fuel cars by 2040 has made for a volatile trading environment, but dealers remain confident. Until this deadline draws closer there will still be demand for diesel cars, particularly from high mileage customers who value the fuel economy.”

Britain Under the Bonnet methodology 

The figures in this report are based on Close Brothers Motor Finance’s own data, a telephone survey of 200 UK car dealers undertaken between November and December 2017, and a consumer survey of over 2000 UK drivers, weighted to be nationally representative. The survey was conducted in December 2017 by Watermelon. All statistics in the report, unless stated otherwise, come from the aforementioned sources.

Methodology – 51.7 million adults in the UK; 76% of those own a car and 82% of these are planning on purchasing a new car in the next 3 years. Of these, 34% said Brexit had changed their car-buying plans.

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