New car sales in NI stall by 5%

The Volkswagen Golf is the most purchased car in Northern Ireland to date this year, with 1,645 sales
Gareth McKeown

CAR sales in Northern Ireland have stalled by five per cent over the past year, the latest industry figures show.

A total of 6,326 new cars were registered in the north in September, a five per cent fall on the same month in 2016 (6,657). A similar reverse has been recorded in sales so far this year with almost three thousand less than in 2016. Up to September a total of 45,906 vehicles were sold in comparison to 48,548 a year previous, a 5.4 per cent reduction.

The slump is part of an overall UK-wide fall of 9.3 per cent over the past year, with the new car market now officially in recession after two successive quarters of decline.

Just over 426,000 new cars were registered in September according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with the organisation blaming a fall in consumer confidence on economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans.

In the year to September a total of 2.07 million new cars have been registered in the UK, a decrease of 3.9 per cent on the same period in 2016.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the decline in sales was of "considerable concern".

"Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big-ticket purchases.

"The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.

"Manufacturers' scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities."

Alex Buttle, director of car buying comparison website said the new car market has a a fight on its hands to recover

“What can be done? Well the industry seems to be sticking its head in the sand. The electric and hybrid car markets do offer rays of hope, but the government needs to think about incentivising consumers to buy them if it wants to reverse the current market trend.

"Instead, recent policy decisions have done nothing other than to help force diesel cars off the road, just as the market needs a catalyst for growth.”

The Volkswagen Golf remains the most purchased car in Northern Ireland to date this year, with 1,645 sales. The Hyundai Tucson (1,420) is in second place, with the top rounded off by the Ford Fiesta (1,375). The latter was the most popular vehicle in September with 244 sold across the north, with the Golf and Tucson again featuring in the top three.

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