UK registrations fell 3.5 percent to 234,945 in June as demand for diesels continued to plunge.
Sales of diesel vehicles fell 28 percent while demand for gasoline cars rose 12 percent, according to data from the industry association SMMT. This gave diesel a 31.7 percent market share compared with 42.5 percent in June 2017. Gasoline's market share was 61.7 percent, up from 53.1 percent.
The SMMT said the UK market continues to stabilize following a "turbulent" first half that was distorted by the previous year’s rise in Vehicle Excise Duty. The UK market experienced a severe double-digit decline in March followed by a stronger April and May, it said.
Private sales in June fell 0.6 percent, but business sales grew 11 percent.
The SMMT called on the British government to follow a "technology neutral strategy" giving motorists confidence to buy the "right car and right technology for their needs." A 45 percent increase in plug-in and hybrid registrations in June was not enough to offset the decline in diesel registrations, it said.
"It’s great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to rise. Given these cars still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver, " Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO, said in the news release.
Seat, BMW among brand winners
Volkswagen Group's Seat marque, which is expanding its lineup in the popular SUV/crossover segment, had the biggest rise among brands last month, with a 33 percent jump in sales, followed by BMW, which increased volume by 20 percent. Kia was up 15 percent, while Citroen rose 9.8 percent. Skoda sales grew 9.6 percent and Hyundai was up 8.7 percent. Other gainers last month included VW brand, up 2.5 percent, Toyota up 1.4 percent and Peugeot up 1.2 percent.
• Click here for June UK sales by brand
Losers included Nissan, whose sales plunged by 34 percent, Dacia whose volume was down 30 percent and Fiat down 29 percent. Renault sales fell 23 percent, Ford was down 18 percent and Vauxhall sales dropped 13 percent.
Demand for Mini vehicles declined by 9.3 percent, while Mercedes-Benz brand sales dropped 5 percent and volume at Audi fell 3.6 percent.
Through June, overall UK passenger car sales fell 6.3 percent to 1.31 million.
LMC Automotive predicts the UK market will slip in and out of growth over the rest of the year as the economy remains lackluster. It forecasts full-year sales of just over 2.4 million units, which would be the weakest annual performance since 2013.