CAR sales records tumbled in March with the market for 17-plate motors growing by a whopping 8.4 per cent.
The biggest monthly rise since records began was put down to a huge surge in electric and low-emission motors.
The top three models to fly off the showroom forecourt, according to figures from the Society of Motor
Manufacturers and Traders, were the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Corsa.
SMMT chief exec Mike Hawes said: “These record figures are undoubtedly boosted by consumers reacting to new road tax changes, pulling forward purchases into March.”
Following a new hike on April 1, only purely electric vehicles now qualify as tax free. As a result, sales of low-emission cars jumped by almost a third in March.
The changes mean hybrids and dual-fuel vehicles will no-longer qualify for a zero car tax bonus under the new rules based on a vehicle’s emissions. Drivers of low-emission cars like hybrids must pay a sliding scale of charges based on the car’s CO2 output for the first year of ownership. After that, petrol or diesel vehicles are subject to a rate of £140 a year.Despite the cloud hanging over diesel cars, sales were up 1.6 per cent in March to 244,463. Diesel’s total market share fell, however, to 43 per cent from 46 per cent in March last year.
The image of diesel cars, once touted as the greener alternative to petrol-engined cars, has taken a battering as people have become more aware of the pollution they pump out.
London mayor Sadiq Khan threatened to clobber drivers in London with the world’s first Ultra-low Emissions Zone.
His proposals could mean that owners of the most polluting cars will have to cough up £12.50 — on top of the £11.50 daily congestion charge.