The future of diesel looks uncertain, with a sharp decline of 41% in the number of newly-registered diesel cars over the past two years. And with more drivers turning to petrol and ULEV (ultra-low emissions vehicle) than ever before, diesel looks set to become rarer in the next few years.

This comes from the Department for Transport’s recent Vehicle Licensing Statistics report, which shines a light on the defining trends of the motoring industry every quarter of a year. Here, we take a detailed look at the DoT’s report, so you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of cars and motoring ­– from the decline of diesel to the UK’s most popular car brands.

Use the links below to jump to each story.

Diesel Cars See Steady Decline Over the Past Two Years

Why Are Diesel Car Numbers Falling So Fast?

Diesel was once hailed by the government as the ‘dream fuel’ but the number of new diesel cars on the road has dropped to the same low levels as 2003/04. So why are diesel cars disappearing so fast?

According to the DoT, the recent changes to Vehicle Excise Duty has probably had the single biggest impact on the popularity of diesel cars. In April 2018, it got much more expensive to tax new diesel cars – with drivers having to spend an average of £205 on tax in the first year of ownership.

But VED isn’t the only thing that’s impacted diesel sales. The government’s pledge to axe diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 means more people than ever are turning to alternative fuel cars, like plug-in hybrids, as a way to avoid tax hikes and rising fuel costs. A lot of companies are taking diesel cars off their company car lists in favour of more economical, low tax vehicles.

Petrol Cars Still on the Up

Petrol Cars – What’s the Story?

It doesn’t seem like the government’s pledge to axe conventional fuels has impacted petrol car sales, with a sharp increase of nearly a quarter compared to the same period last year. Petrol car numbers are now back at pre-recession levels, as drivers buy-in to the trend of affordable and economical petrol-powered cars.

Despite petrol being on the government’s hitlist, it is cheaper to tax new petrol cars compared with diesels. They’re also much cheaper to buy outright and normally come with a better choice of engines ­­– so, this explains why petrol cars sales are still going strong.

Sales of Alternative Fuel Cars Up By 44% on Previous Year

What Does the Future Hold for Alternative Fuel Cars?

Whilst alternative fuel cars still represent a very small percentage of the market, the future certainly looks bright for the eco car industry. Alternative fuel cars are those powered by an electric, gas, bi-fuel or hybrid engine, and they’re slowly getting more popular as a greater number of car manufacturers launch eco-friendly ULEVs.

In July 2018, the government reaffirmed its ambition that all new cars should be ULEVs by 2030. To support this, it offers a range of grants to those who want to make the switch to an eco-friendly vehicle, which you can find out more about here.

What Are the UK’s Most Popular Cars?

The ‘Big Five’ Brands Continue to Dominate the Industry

Despite rising fuel prices, tax hikes and the government’s clampdown on petrol and diesel, car sales are on the up, with a rise of 0.9% on the previous year. Cars now account for 82% of all vehicles in the UK ­– and a vast majority of these are made by just five manufacturers.

Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Vauxhall and Audi make up 42% of total cars on the road, with some of our most popular models made by these manufacturers. The nation’s favourite supermini, the Fiesta, remains the most popular car on the road, closely followed by the Focus, the Corsa, the Golf and the Astra. Interestingly, all these cars are hatchbacks, and all of them offer economical petrol engines.

Top-line Stats to Takeaway

Here are some of the essential stats outlined in the DoT’s Vehicle Licensing Statistics report:

For more of the latest motoring news and advice, you can keep up-to-date on the Redex blog.

Our innovative fuel additives are designed for petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, so you can enjoy a better drive whatever car you own. Visit our homepage to browse our range of fuel additives and system cleaners.