New car registrations fell -5.7% in 2017 to 2,540,617 units, the first decline in six years.
The SMMT, which released the figures, described the market as “very volatile” and with “lacklustre economic growth” it expected further weakening in the market for 2018.
The -14.4% fall in December marked the ninth consecutive month of decline. Registrations to private buyers fell -6.8%, fleets saw a fall of -4.5% decline and registrations to business with less than 25 vehicles on their books fell -7.8%.
Diesel registrations saw a -17.1% decline in 2017 as consumers switched to petrol vehicles, up 2.7% and from a low base AFVs, up 34.8%.
The most popular vehicle choices were superminis, small family cars and SUVs with the latter the only segment to grow demand in 2017. one in every five new cars sold in the UK is now a SUV up from one in 10 five years ago.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “2017 has undoubtedly been a very volatile year and the lacklustre economic growth means that we expect a further weakening in the market for 2018. The upside for consumers, however, is some very, very competitive deals.”