SMMT figures show slowdown in new car sales in February

The Vauxhall Corsa was the second-biggest new-seller in Northern Ireland last month
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEW car sales in Northern Ireland slumped by 11 per cent in February compared to the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

And two months into the new year, registrations are already tailing off by more than 5 per cent against the previous year, underlining the wider malaise in the region's economy right now.

Some 4,272 new vehicle left showrooms last month - well down on the 4,811 figure for February 2016.

And in the year to date, 10,406 cars have been registered compared to 11,000 at the same point last year.

The top-selling models last month were the Volkswagen Golf (194 cars sold), Vauxhall Corsa (167) and Hyundai Tucson (138), followed by the Ford Fiesta (114) and Ford Focus (107)

In the UK as a whole, some 83,115 cars were registered last month - down 0.3 per cent year-on-year

Diesel registrations fell by 9.2 per cent but demand for petrol cars increased by 5.8 per cent.

The alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) market grew by 48.9 per cent to take a 4 per cent market share.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "February is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year and a steady performance was expected following another year of record growth in 2016.

"We expect to see the market bounce back in March as buyers take advantage of the new 17-plate, as well as the last chance to buy a car eligible for current lower VED (vehicle excise duty) rates before they change on April 1."

Meanwhile French car giant PSA Group is to buy the European operations of General Motors, including Vauxhall in the UK, for £1.9 billion.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation about the deal and its impact on thousands of jobs at Vauxhall plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, as well as in supply companies.

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