Business

New car market in Northern Ireland declines by 3.8 per cent

The Ford Fiesta was the top-selling new car in Northern Ireland last month - and also tops the list in the region at the halfway point of the year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DEMAND for new cars in Northern Ireland fell by 3.8 per cent in June, new figures show.

Some 5,501 new cars were registered last month compared with 5,721 during the same month in 2017, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

And at the halfway point of the year, registrations in the north are down 3.5 per cent at 30,992 against 32,122 a year ago, though in the UK as a whole, the market is 6.3 per cent behind where it was this time in 2017.

The Ford Fiesta was the top-seller in Northern Ireland in June, and indeed leads the way at the six-month point of the year.

The Ford Kuga and Focus also featured in the regional June top 10, where Volkswagen was also prominent with the Pol0 (third place), Golf (fourth) and Tiguan (ninth).

In the UK overall, sales of petrol models increased by 12.3 per cent last month, while diesels fell for the 15th consecutive month, down 28.2 per cent.

Indeed the diesel market share in the UK has collapsed from half few years ago to less than a third (32.6 per cent).

Alex Buttle, director at Motorway.co.uk, said: "With demand for new cars back in negative territory after two months of growth, the mini recovery appears to be over.

"June was the 12th consecutive month in which diesel sales have fallen more than 20 per cent, and these double digit hits continue to massively skew overall figures.

"But dig a little beneath the surface and there's real cause for optimism. Petrol new registrations were up again last month and double digit growth suggests that petrol might be able to start taking up more slack from plummeting diesel sales.

"We also saw the level of growth in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles last month to suggest that finally consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable about making the switch over to electric and hybrid.

"But this momentum needs to be maintained. The AFV market is under tremendous pressure to hit these types of figures every month if it's to remain on track for the 2040 electric-hybrid switch over. And the Government needs to show it's fully behind the switch over, and that means actions, not rhetoric."

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Despite a rocky first six months for the new car market, it's great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continues to rise.

"Given these cars still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver.

"Recent Government statements acknowledging the importance of petrol and diesel are encouraging.

"However, we now need a strategy that supports industry investment into next-generation technologies and puts motorists back in the driving seat, encouraged to buy the car that best suits their needs - whatever its fuel type."

Top 10 sellers in Northern Ireland in June were:

1 Ford Fiesta

2 Hyundai Tucson

3 Volkswagen Polo

4 Volkswagen Golf

5 Nissan qashqai

6 Citroen C4 Cactus

7 Vauxhall Mokka X

8 Ford Kuga

9 Volkswagen Tiguan

10 Ford Focus

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