Hyundai pips Ford as our favourite car in April but sales slide
THE Northern Ireland car market slumped by almost a third last month in the aftermath of the government's new car tax regime, which means bigger bills for almost drivers buying new vehicles.
Demand for new cars fell by 29.1 per cent compared to April 2016, slipping to 3,303 from 4,658.
In advance of the more costly tax system, March registrations in Northern Ireland had risen by 9.6 per cent, but the net effect of April's slump mean that in the year-to-date, the registration total of 22,265 trails last year's tally of 23,465 by 5.1 per cent.
The overall UK market fell by 19.8 per cent in April, though the year-to-date total, buoyed by a bumper March, is running 1.2 per cent ahead of the 2016 total.
Trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which compiles the figures, noted that demand was down "across the board, with registrations by private buyers, businesses and large fleets falling".
Diesel and petrol both declined while hybrid and electric vehicles had their first fall in almost four years.
Despite the substantial falls in the month, the overall new car market remains strong in the year-to-date, with new registrations in the first four months up 1.1 per cent year-on-year to 972,092 - the highest level on record," it said.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the April slump was to be expected.
"With the rush to register new cars and avoid VED tax rises before the end of March, as well as fewer selling days due to the later Easter, April was always going to be much slower," he said.
"It’s important to note that the market remains at record levels as customers still see many benefits in purchasing a new car. We therefore expect demand to stabilise over the year as the turbulence created by these tax changes decreases."
In Northern Ireland, the Hyundai Tucson SUV returned to number one spot, closely followed by the Volkswagen Golf.
Crossover and SUV vehicles remain highly popular in the north, accounting for half of the cars in the top 10.
Unusually, the Ford Fiesta was in a relatively lowly seventh place; demand is cooling for the north's perennial favourite new car in advance of a new model, which is due to arrive with dealers soon.
In the year-to-date, the Volkswagen Golf is Northern Ireland's most popular car, followed by the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Tucson.