New car sales reverse again as showrooms gear up for torrid second half

Sales of new cars were down 3.7 per cent in Northern Ireland in June according to the SMMT
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE car sales market in Northern Ireland is continuing to lag well behind Britain, with latest industry figures revealing another marked drop-off in new vehicles leaving showrooms.

Just 5,721 new cars were registered in June, down 3.7 per cent on the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In the first six months of 2017, some 32,122 new vehicles were registered in the north.

That marks a 5.4 per cent reverse on where the market was a year ago, when 33,969 cars had been sold.

The figures will be seen as underlying the fragile nature of the region's economy and point to a lack of consumer confidence when it comes to spending on big ticket items.

And analysts fear there is little prospect of a recovery in the second half of the year, which is expected to be even tougher for the local car industry and car showrooms.

In the UK as a whole, the new car market declined for a third consecutive month, with just over 243,000 new registrations in June, down 4.8 per cent on the same month last year.

The SMMT said the market is "in line with 2017 forecasts" following a record first three months of the year.

Many buyers brought orders forward to March ahead of new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates coming into force.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "As forecast, demand for new cars has started to cool following five consecutive years of solid growth but the numbers are still strong and the first half of the year is the second biggest on record.

"Provided consumer and business confidence holds, we expect demand to remain at a similarly high level over the coming months."

Demand for new diesel cars dropped by 14.7 per cent last month, while petrol rose 2.5 per cent and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were up 29 per cent.

AFVs took a market share of 4.4 per cent in June, compared with 3.2 per cent during the same month in 2016.

Mr Hawes said: "It's encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles experiencing rapid growth but adoption is still at a relatively low level and more long term incentives are required if this new generation of vehicles is to be a more common sight on British roads."

Here are the top 10 best-selling new cars in Northern Ireland so far this year:

1 Volkswagen Golf

2 Ford Fiesta

3 Hyundai Tucson

4 Ford Focus

5 Ford Kuga

6 Nissan qashqai

7 Volkswagen Polo

8 Kia Sportage

9 Vauxhall Corsa

10 Volkswagen Tiguan

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