New car sales fell for the first time in six years last year, with demand for diesel cars plunging by almost a fifth.

BBC GraphIn total, there were about 2.5 million cars registered, according to industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figure was down 5.7% from 2016, while diesel sales fell 17.1% as higher taxes and pollution fears hit demand.

CO2 emissions from new cars increased for the first time in 20 years, up 0.8% on 2016.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the drop in diesel sales was "the prime cause" of the rise in CO2 emissions and that the latest low-emission diesels were "vital" in meeting climate change targets.

He said he expected car sales to continue to drop this year, predicting a 5% to 7% fall.

Industry expert speaks out about the true cost of so-called cheap supermarket fuel

Supermarket fuels could be a false economy for motorists, according to experts who claim cheap fuel could end up costing motorists an extra £100 a year.

The UK fuel market is subject to strict legal standards, however different retailers are free to introduce additives to the fuel.

It’s these so-called ‘secret concoctions’ that differentiate the quality of fuel, with many branded filling stations claiming to offer fuel that helps keep engines clean and improve fuel economy.

Jason Lloyd, managing director at PetrolPrices.com, said: “Many supermarkets get fuel from the same refineries as the leading brands.

“But it’s a bit like budget airlines – they get you to the same place but with main national carriers you also get more, such as in-flight food and entertainment.

“Fuel is similar and some people find paying for unleaded from, say BP, over time means you get better mpg than supermarket fuel so in essence it’s a false economy.”

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