The UK new car market declined for the fifth consecutive month in July, with 157,198 vehicles leaving showrooms, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Registrations fell by 4.1% compared with the same month a year ago.

Registrations of diesel vehicles fell for the 28th month, down 22.1%, while petrol cars remained stable, with 2,646 more registrations than in July 2018.

Hybrid electric cars increased by 34.2%, with 7,758, but plug-in hybrid electric vehicles continued their recent decline, down 49.6%.

Demand for battery electric vehicles was up 158.1% to 2,271, resulting in the highest monthly market share on record of 1.4%.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Despite yet another month of decline in the new car market, it’s encouraging to see substantial growth in zero emission vehicles. Thanks to manufacturers’ investment in these new technologies over many years, these cars are coming to market in greater numbers than ever before.

“If the UK is to meet its environmental ambitions, however, government must create the right conditions to drive uptake, including long-term incentives and investment in infrastructure. The fastest way to address air quality concerns is through fleet renewal so buyers need to be given the confidence to invest in the new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs, regardless of how they are powered.”

“The decline of 4.1% in new car sales in July shows that the Government must secure a Brexit deal which provides clarity to businesses and consumers”, said Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK.

She added: “While registrations of petrol vehicles rose marginally and diesel declined, sales of pure electric cars increased substantially despite significant supply challenges. Retailers are making important investments to meet the fast-growing demand in this sector.

“Our data suggests that almost one in three UK consumers are undecided about the fuel type of their next car. While franchised retailers continue to work hard to inform their customers, a stable political and economic environment, with clear policies, is essential to support our industry going forward.

“Franchised retailers continue to be viewed as the most trusted and safest option in sales and aftersales, and we continue to work with customers and manufacturer partners to stimulate growth in the sector.”