UK new-car sales fell 5.5 percent in December to 144,089 as buyers continued to avoid diesel cars amid a crackdown on the fuel to combat rising NOx pollution in cities.
Full-year registrations were also hit by collapsing diesel demand, with total market sales falling 6.8 percent to 2.37 million, the fastest rate of decline since the global financial crisis a decade ago.
The December decline marked the 21st consecutive monthly fall in diesel sales, industry body SMMT said on Monday. The SMMT blamed "anti-diesel rhetoric and negative fiscal measures" for lower demand for diesels, whose sales plunged by nearly 30 percent in 2018.
Many diesel owners are adopting a 'wait and see' approach and keeping hold of their older, more polluting vehicles for longer, the SMMT said.