Sharp fall in UK manufacturers’ sales of diesel cars


UK manufacturers’ sales of mid-range diesel cars declined sharply last year, new figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown today. Sales of these cars, either for home use or export, were £6.444 billion in 2018, down a third on 2017’s figure of £9.758 billion. The number of cars sold also fell by over a third.

Sales of mid-range diesel cars – those with engines between 1.5 litres and 2.5 litres – peaked in 2016 at 630,000 vehicles, worth £10.625bn. They fell somewhat into 2017: at 535,000 cars, volume was down 15.1%. But in 2018, only 352,000 cars were sold, down 34.3% on the previous year and down 44.2% on the 2016 peak. Meanwhile, the sale of petrol-engined cars rose from 867,000 vehicles in 2016 to 1.060 million in 2018, an increase of 22.3%.

Commenting on the figures, ONS statistician Jon Gough said:

“Vehicle production as a whole was slightly down. However, our new figures show the extent to which the car industry is moving away from diesel vehicles, and instead placing a much greater emphasis and increased resources on hybridisation and electrification.”

These figures are part of the 2018 report on UK manufacturers’ sales by product, usually known as ‘Prodcom’. This gives a very detailed breakdown on manufacturers’ sales across a wide variety of products, whether for home use or export; it does not cover imports from overseas manufacturers.

Other key points include:

  • Overall, manufacturers’ sales increased by £9.4bn in 2018 to a total of £390.1bn. Since 2009, manufacturers’ product sales showed an increase every year, except for 2015 when there was a decline of £4.4bn. In 2018, sales were up across almost all divisions within the manufacturing sector
  • The manufacture of sugar declined by £100m between 2017 and 2018 due to an excess supply in the global market. Additionally, the manufacture of sweet biscuits also declined by almost £100m in the same period.
  •  Demand for agricultural and forestry machinery has increased for the fourth year running, with sales now reaching £1.9bn
  •  Sales of plastic bags have declined by 47% from the high of £350m in 2016