The number of new petrol cars being registered in the UK has climbed back to levels not seen since before the 2008/09 recession, as diesel sales have plummeted.

Figures released by the Department for Transport for the second quarter (Q2) of 2018 show a rise of 23% to 367,000 petrol cars compared with the same period a year ago.

In contrast, registrations of new diesel cars have fallen by 26% over the same period to 184,000, which is below the 2008/09 recession dip, and similar to 2003/04 levels.

This was the second year of sharp decline in the Q2 statistics for diesel, following a 20% decrease in new diesel car registrations in 2017 Q2. Over two years registrations fell by 41% with 128,000 fewer diesels being registered.

The most recent quarter was the fifth in a row where an annual decrease of more than 20% has been recorded. Diesel cars accounted for 49% of all new car registrations in 2016 Q2, but this had dropped to 31% in 2018 Q2.

Meanwhile, registrations of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were up 37% on 2017 Q2. However they only made up 2.1% of all vehicle registrations, compared with 1.5% last year.

Average CO2 emissions from new cars were up 1.9% on the previous year, at 127g/km, compared with 124g/km a year ago.

Average CO2 emissions from new cars had steadily fallen since records began in 2003, only starting to rise from mid-2016 onwards. The report suggested one of the contributing factors for the current trend was an increase in the proportion of larger cars being registered.

Ford maintained a lead in the top selling makes with the Fiesta in first place and Focus third after the Volkswagen Golf. Overall Fiestas are the most numerous cars on the road with 1.5 million, followed by the Focus with 1.3 million and the Vauxhall Corsa with 1.1 million.