New car market reverse is blamed on lack of consumer confidence

Just 3,516 new cars were registered in Northern Ireland in October, down 2.25 per cent on the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE new car market continues to decline in Northern Ireland in another sign that businesses and consumers are struggling financially and lacking the confidence to spend on big ticket items.

Just 3,516 new cars were registered in October, down 2.25 per cent on the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

And with only 49,422 sold in the year to date (that's 5.22 per cent short of the 52,145 registered after 10 months last year), dealerships fear this will be their worst year in five for new car sales.

However, the drop in Northern Ireland isn't nearly as pronounced as in the UK overall, where monthly sales were down 12.1 per cent and the overall market is 4.5 per cent behind where is was a year ago.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market but this is being compounded by confusion over Government policy on diesel.

"Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK.

"We urge the Government to use the forthcoming autumn budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low-emission vehicles, as fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns."

Demand for diesel cars continued to drop sharply - down 29.9 per cent in October and 14.9 per cent for the year so far.

Petrol models were up 2.7 per cent last month, while alternatively-fuelled vehicles rose 36.9 per cent to achieve a market share of 5.2 per cent.

The Government recently announced plans to ban the sale of all conventional diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in a bid to meet European Union limits on harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution.

It is also considering funding measures to cut pollution with a tax on new diesel vehicles. The Committee on Climate Change has said 60 per cent of new cars and vans must be electric by 2030 to meet carbon targets cost-effectively.

October best-sellers in Northern Ireland were:

1 Volkswagen Golf

2 Hyundai Tucson

3 Citroen C3

4 Ford Fiesta

5 Kia Sportage

6 Ford Focus

7 Nissan Qashqai

8 Vauxhall Mokka X

9 Ford Kuga

10 Nissan Juke

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