The total number of diesel cars on the roads has fallen for the first time since records began show new figures released this week.
Last year there were 12.29m diesel cares licensed a fall of 111,000 over the previous year – that’s the first decline since 1994 when Department for Transport records began
Diesel cars have fallen out of favour with buyers after a ‘demonisation’ of the fuel was started by the government.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures hint at a ‘motoring milestone’.
He said: ‘The possibility that we have hit or even passed “peak diesel” – due to the collapse in sales of new diesel cars together with the scrapping of older diesels, which have either come to the end of their useful lives or whose owners fear increasing restrictions on their use because of air quality concerns.
‘Last year also saw the first drop in the volume of diesel fuel sold since the financial crisis.’
Fall in diesels licensed in UK
The number of alternatively-fuelled cars, such as hybrids and battery electrics, reached 78,000.
Car manufacturers have blamed confusion over how diesel cars will be treated when clean air zones are introduced in towns and cities for their drop in popularity.
Vans – the vast majority of which are diesel-powered – bucked the trend, with an increase of 113,000 to 4.12 million last year.
Mr Gooding added: ‘Manufacturers have struggled to develop cost-effective zero-tailpipe technologies to power these workhorse vehicles.’
The government has said the ban on sales of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans could be brought forward from 2040 to as early as 2032 in a bid to meet carbon reduction targets.
Transport minister Rachel Maclean said the number of new battery electric cars more than doubling last year demonstrates that ‘more drivers than ever before are choosing a greener path and making the switch’.
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