UK new car registrations were down 6.7% in October when compared with the same month last year, but sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles reached record levels, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 143,251 cars were sold last month, 10,348 fewer than were registered a year ago. Sales of new diesel cars were particularly bad hit, down 28.3% from 48,381 to 34,666, with market share falling from 31.5% to 24.2%.

Petrol car sales were also down falling 3.2% from 92,348 to 89,371, but there market share increased from 60.1% to 62.4%.

One positive area was alternatively fuelled vehicles which reached a new high at 9.9% market share, up from 6.9% a year ago. The star performers were mild hybrid electric vehicles, with sales up 378.1% to 3,251 and a market share of 2.3% and battery electric vehicles up 2.2% to 3,162 and a market share of 2.3%

For the year to date, the new car market remains in decline, down 2.9% on the first 10 months of 2018, with total sales of 2,005,522 compared with 2,062,419 a year ago.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies. The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.

“Whether the general election delivers a bounce to the economy remains to be seen but, with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra-low and zero-emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.”