The UK car industry has launched a strong counter to the ''demonisation'' of diesel by government after sales of vehicles powered by the fuel fell to almost a third.
New car registrations data retreated for the third consecutive month in November, slipping 11.2 per cent on the same month last year.
The figures compiled by the industry trade group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) recorded registrations, of 163,541, hit by uncertainty caused by Brexit.
However, an analysis of the numbers revealed a near-collapse in sales of diesel cars, plummeting 30.6 per cent to 61,730 in the month and driving the SMMT to hit out at government policy.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ''Falling business and consumer confidence is being exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government, The Telegraph reported.
''Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.''
The fall comes as the biggest drop in market share for diesel since 2008, when the market was reeling from the shock of the financial crisis. November's decline comes after a large decline almost as large in the previous month.
According to Hawes, measures outlined in the Budget for higher taxes on new diesel vehicles with ''cleaner'' engines, which the chancellor said would be used to fund plans to improve air quality - would actually do more harm than good. He added that the measures would fail to drive the most polluting cars off the roads.
''An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government,'' said Hawes, The Guardian reported.
''Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. The decision to tax the latest low emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars.
''Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counterproductive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences.''