New car sales in Northern Ireland drop 2 per cent on a year ago

The Hyundai Tucson has been the second-biggest seller in Northern Ireland in the first six months of this year according to SMMT figures
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEW car sales in Northern Ireland fell by nearly 2 per cent in June compared to the same month last year, according to industry figures.

Some 5,938 cars were registered in the region last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said. That compares with 6,057 in 2015.

But in the year as a whole, car sales in Northern Ireland are ahead of where they were after six months of 2015, with 33,969 new models having drive from showrooms (it was 33,409 this time last year).

In the UK as a whole, some 255,766 cars were registered last month, down 0.8 per cent on a year ago.

Demand for diesel cars fell by 2.1 per cent, while petrol models saw a decline of 0.5 per cent.

The SMMT said the figures were in line with expectations that the market would "stabilise" following a record 2015 and it was too early to tell if the EU referendum has affected sales.

In June the 4.5 per cent decrease in private new car registrations was compensated by an increase of the same percentage for fleet buyers.

Business customers made up less than 4 per cent of the market after falling by 25 per cent.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes noted that demand for new cars in the first half of the year overall grew by 3.2 per cent to a record 1,420,636 registrations.

He said: "It is far too soon to determine whether the referendum result has had an impact on the new car market.

"The first six months saw strong demand at record levels but the market undoubtedly cooled over the second quarter.

"It's important government takes every measure to restore business and economic confidence to avoid the market contracting in the coming months."

Volkswagen car sales saw an 18.9 per cent slide in June as the German manufacturer continued to suffer as a result of the diesel emissions scandal.

The brand had 19,196 registrations compared with 23,670 in the same month last year.

Its year-to-date sales for 2016 are 8.7 per cent down on the same point in 2015.

Volkswagen Group admitted last September that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with defeat device software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they were being tested for emissions.

The Wolfsburg-based company announced that 11 million vehicles were affected worldwide - including almost 1.2 million in the UK.

Other VW brands had mixed results in June.

Year-on-year sales for Audi were up 3.4 per cent and Skoda rose by 11.1 per cent, but Seat registrations were down 15.9 per cent.

:: Top-selling cars in Northern Ireland (Jan-Jun 2016):

Ford Fiesta 1,328

Hyundai Tucson 1,103

Volkswagen Golf 1,033

Volkswagen Polo 943

Ford Focus 773

Kia Sportage 732

Nissan qashqai 710

Ford Kuga 687

Vauxhall Astra 642

Renault Kadjar 642

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