New car sales dropped for their eighth consecutive month in November as new car registrations declined by 11.2 per cent.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, some 163,541 new cars were registered last month – 20,560 fewer than the 184,101 witnessed in November 2016.

This took 2017’s running total to 2.38 million units, which is five per cent less than the 2.51 million from the first 11 months of 2016.

Registrations retracted in each market area, with business sales down 33.6 per cent, fleet falling 14.4 per cent and private decreasing 5.1 per cent.

While the number of new diesel cars fell by 30.6 per cent in November, petrol rose by five per cent last month, sitting 3.1 per cent ahead of this point last year.

Declines were witnessed in every body type too – except specialist sports, which grew 6.7 per cent – with the biggest decreases seen in the executive and mini segments (down 22.2 and 19.8 per cent respectively), while demand in the popular supermini segment contracted by 15.4 per cent.

Van sales were also down for the third month running, declining by 11.1 per cent in November (-4.1 per cent for the year).

‘A major concern’

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, admitted that eight straight months of declining registrations was “a major concern”.

He claimed that depleted confidence amongst businesses and consumers alike had been exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from the government.

However, the SMMT boss stressed that “diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions”.

Mr Hawes added: “The decision to tax the latest low-emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars.

“Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counterproductive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences.”

The Ford Fiesta was the biggest-selling car for November and remains the year’s most popular model, shifting almost 6,500 in November and close to 90,000 for the year so far.

Volkswagen’s Golf was a distant second in the year-to-date chart, sitting more than 20,000 units behind the Fiesta, followed by the Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai and two Vauxhalls – the Corsa and Astra.

Ben Robb, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, commented: “There may be a lot of buzz surrounding hybrids right now, but the SMMT boss speaks sense when he says that diesel is still the most suitable option for most motorists.”

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