The UK new car market fell marginally in August, with 1,521 fewer cars registered than in the same month last year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Registrations fell by 1.6% in what is typically one of the slowest months of the year, as falling demand for diesel and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to affect the overall market.

Diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, though at a slower rate than in recent months (-12.2%), while petrol demand remained stable, up 1.0%.

Zero emission cars saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units. SMMT attributed this to new models and some pent-up demand boosting registrations. The Tesla Model 3, which is newly available in the UK after a wait of three years for some buyers, shot to third place in the best-selling models, with 2,082 sales. It was only beaten by the Ford Fiesta with 3,978 registrations and Volkswagen Golf’s 3,439, and was higher than the Ford Focus’s 1,886 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class on 1,880.

Hybrid electric cars saw an uplift of 36.2% to 4,014 units. However, the decline in plug-in hybrid registrations continued, down 71.8% to 907 vehicles.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome. It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years.

“While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake.

“To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.”