Annual figures released by the Department for Transport show that 2.9 million vehicles were registered for the first time in Great Britain during 2018, 5% fewer than during 2017.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While the number of licensed vehicles on our roads is up slightly, 2018 overall was a bad year for new vehicle registrations, and especially for the sale of new diesels. The data suggests people may be holding onto their vehicles for longer, particularly older diesels, no doubt due to the uncertainty about what type of vehicle they should be opting for next.

“A rise in the number of ultra-low emission vehicle registrations is welcome, but ultimately sales of these vehicles still only make up just over 2% of all new vehicles sold. We really need to see this accelerate more quickly if air quality is to be improved. With many manufacturers launching new models with better battery range, the outlook is much more positive.”