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Drop in demand for diesels leads to further reverse in new car sales

The Vauxhall Tiguan made an appearance in the Northern Ireland top-sellers' list in February, coming in at number eight
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE new car market declined in Northern Ireland yet again in February - albeit at a less pronounced rate than in Britain.

The reverse is being attributed to less demand for diesel vehicles after the Government unveiled plans last year to ban the sale of all conventional diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 4,029 cars were first-time registered locally last month, down 5.7 per cent on the January figure of 4,272.

So far this year 10,078 new cars have been sold in the north compared to 10,406 at the same time last year (a 3.15 per cent drop).

In the UK as a whole, just under 81,000 new cars were registered in February - down 2.6 per cent on a year ago and driven by a whopping 23.5 per cent fall in the number of new diesel cars bought.

Diesel cars held a market share of just 35 per cent last month, compared with 44.5 per cent in February 2017.

Registrations of petrol cars were up 14.4 per cent last month, while demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrids and pure electrics increased by 7.2 per cent.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Although the new car market has dipped, it remains at a good level despite the drop in demand for diesel.

"Consumers should be reassured, however, that the latest cars are the cleanest in history and can help address air quality issues, which is why they are exempt from any restrictions.

"Looking ahead to the crucial number plate change month of March, we expect a further softening, given March 2017 was a record as registrations were pulled forward to avoid VED (vehicle excise duty) changes."

New VED rates came into force on April 1 last year which meant all new cars, except for those with zero emissions, are subject to an annual flat rate charge.

RAC research found the vast majority of drivers buying new cars are paying significantly more following the changes.

These were the top 10 best-selling new cars in Northern Ireland in February:

1 Ford Fiesta

2 Hyundai Tucson

3 Volkswagen Golf

4 Ford Kuga

5 Ford Focus

6 Nissan qashqai

7 Kia Sportage

8 Volkswagen Tiguan

9 Vauxhall Mokka X

10 Renault Kadjar

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