Scotland’s new car market hit the brakes last month, suffering a fall in sales that was twice that of the UK as a whole, new figures have revealed.
Industry leaders said a “disappointing” 17,576 cars were registered north of the Border in June, down almost 7 per cent on the same month last year.
The figures came a day after it was revealed that sales across the UK had fallen 3.5 per cent, year-on-year, last month to some 235,000 units.
Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said: “There is no doubt that the market for new vehicles has cooled against the record results of late.
“With all the media hype on Brexit and the various distress commentaries around the diesel product this comes as no real surprise. However, it does have to be noted that we are measuring against very significant previous record results.”
He added: “Ford are the market leader despite the actual top model in June being Vauxhall’s very capable and evergreen Corsa. The VW Polo was second with Ford’s Fiesta coming in third.
“The private percentage [of overall sales] is still very strong across Scotland at 50 per cent.”
Burgess said many new models were poised to come to market, while there were “increased levels of interest and choice for those seeking an alternative fuelled vehicle”.
The latest UK-wide figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that new car registrations are down 6.3 per cent this year compared with the first six months of last year.
Sales of petrol models increased by 12.3 per cent last month, while diesels fell for the 15th consecutive month, down by 28.2 per cent.
Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrids and pure electrics surged by 45 per cent to take a market share of 6.6 per cent.
There has been growing concern about the impact of diesel car emissions on air quality and uncertainty about what taxes and restrictions will be introduced on them.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Despite a rocky first six months for the new car market, it’s great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continues 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.
“Recent government statements acknowledging the importance of petrol and diesel are encouraging. However, we now need a strategy that supports industry investment into next-generation technologies and puts motorists back in the driving seat.”
Alex Buttle, director of the car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk, said: “With demand for new cars back in negative territory, after two months of growth, the mini recovery appears to be over.”