UK new-car sales fell 7.3 percent to 149,279 in January as consumers held back from big purchases amid increased restrictions on diesel vehicles and ongoing economic uncertainty following Brexit.
"Consumer confidence is not returning to the market and will not be helped by government's decision to add further confusion and instability by moving the goalposts on the end of sale of internal combustion engine cars," Mike Hawes, the SMMT industry association's CEO, said in a news release on Thursday.
Hawes was referring to a decision announced by the government on Wednesday to bring forward a ban on the sale of new combustion-engine cars to 2035.
Demand from private customers fell 14 percent last month for a 41.3 percent market share, while business-fleet registrations dropped 22 percent, giving them a 56.7 percent market share.
Alternatively fueled vehicles reached a record 11.9 percent of the market, up from 6.8 percent in the same month last year.
Diesel's share fell 36 percent to give it a 19.8 percent market share, while sales of gasoline cars fell 9.5 percent for a 61.5 percent share.