New car sales in Northern Ireland go into reverse - but UK zooms forward

Sales of new cars were down in Northern Ireland in September according to the SMMT
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEW car sales in Northern Ireland went into reverse in September, with registrations down more than 1 per cent on the same period a year earlier, according to industry figures.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 6,657 new cars left showrooms last month, compared to 6,727 in September 2015.

But over the year as a whole, there have been 48,548 first-time vehicle registrations in the north, which is slightly ahead of the figure for the first nine months of last year (at which stage 48,286 cars had zoomed away) .

The biggest-selling models in September were the Ford Fiesta (229 registrations), Volkswagen Golf (210), Hyundai Tucson (201), Seat Ibiza (181) and Ford Kuga (174).

Also in the top 10 list were the Ford Focus (170), Nissan Qashqai (166), VW Polo (149), Kia Sportage (113) and Renault Clio (112).

In the UK as a whole, new car sales grew by 1.6 per cent, with 469,696 cars registered, making it the strongest September on record.

Growth was driven by the fleet sector, which saw a 7.3 per cent rise. Private registrations fell by 1.7 per cent.

Some 2.15 million cars have been registered in 2016 so far, up 2.6 per cent on the same period last year.

But SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes warned that "political uncertainty" must be overcome for the industry to continue to grow.

He said: "September is always one of the biggest months for Britain's new car market.

"The introduction of the new 66 plate, combined with a diverse range of exciting new models featuring the latest technology, has certainly helped draw buyers into showrooms and many are taking full advantage of the attractive deals and low interest financing options on offer.

"But business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of the government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite."

Diesel demand rose by 2.8 per cent last month, while petrol registrations fell by 1.1 per cent. Alternatively fuelled vehicles saw growth of 32.6 per cent.

Volkswagen car sales suffered a 14.1 per cent decline in September as the German manufacturer continued to suffer as a result of the diesel emissions scandal.

Just 33,722 Volkswagen cars were registered last month, compared with 39,263 in September 2015.

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