UK sales of new diesel cars fell by 30 percent in the first six months of this year, as buyers shunned the once-dominant fuel in favour of higher-CO2 petrol. Diesel sales fell to 428,612 between January and June, compared to 613,985 in the same period a year earlier, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Petrol sales climbed 11 per cent to 812,535, taking the fuel’s market share to 61.8 per cent, compared to 52 per cent a year earlier.

Total UK car sales over the six months fell 6.3 percent to 1.3m, as the market declined following years of strong growth. Sales in June slipped by 3.5 percent, despite sales of new cars across Europe rising in the same month.

Hybrid and electric cars were increasingly in demand, with sales over the six months up 24 percent to 72,847 up from 58,658. 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 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.