Diesel backlash means new cars on United Kingdom roads pumping out more CO2

Weak consumer confidence hits UK car sales

And the alternatively fuelled vehicle market grew by 34.8 per cent previous year, with appetite for electrified cars reaching a new high.

Mr Hawes stressed that sales "have not gone off a cliff: 2017 is still the third biggest year for the industry in a decade".

The picture was decidedly less rosy in the United Kingdom, where, after growing for five straight years, sales dropped last year by 5.6% from the year before, to about 2.5 million new cars, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Last summer, the United Kingdom government set out a raft of changes aimed at improving air quality in the UK.

Dealers endured a strong start to 2017 and a bumper March ahead of changes to vehicle excise duty. Sales of new diesels plunged by 17% year-on-year in the United Kingdom, and by 7% in Germany, where the diesel engine is beloved.

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Furthermore, in October a new "T-charge" was introduced in London, which requires owners of the oldest and most polluting diesel vehicles to pay £10 on top of the usual £11.50 congestion charge.

However, the quick succession of changes could explain why there's still some confusion about whether buying a new diesel auto could end up being very costly.

And diesels dropped by 17 per cent over the year - plummeting to as much as 30 per cent in November and December thanks to the toxic war by government.

According to the SMMT, motorists are adopting a "wait and see" approach to buying cars - whatever fuel they use - in the face of faltering consumer confidence caused by Brexit.

The SMMT figures show petrol sales have increased by 2.7 per cent while alternatively fuelled vehicles have soared by 37 per cent. "Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals".

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