Pent-up demand after lockdown helps car dealers record best July since 2007

The Ford Focus was the north's best-selling new car during July with 142 sold.
Ryan McAleer

PENT up demand during the coronavirus lockdown contributed to a surge in the sale of new cars in the north during July.

A total of 4,398 new motors were registered here last month, 17 per cent more than the 3,758 sold in June 2019, as car showrooms enjoyed their first full month of trade following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

It was the Northern Ireland motor trade’s best July since 2007, following six of the worst months on record through the first half of 2020.

The data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed a 11 per cent surge UK-wide, with Scotland (36 per cent) and Wales (39 per cent) reporting significant spikes.

The impact of the coronavirus lockdown still leaves new car registrations in the north 43.5 per cent down for the year to date. But last month’s uptake has started to narrow the gap on the shortfall, which stood at 50.8 per cent at the end of June.

The SMMT revealed that Ford fared particularly well here during July, accounting for four of the north’s five best-selling cars.

The Ford Focus topped the table with 142, ahead of another old favourite, the Hyundai Tuscon (134).

Ford’s Fiesta (128), Kuga (108) and Puma (105) completed the top five, followed by the Nissan Qashqai (103), Kia Niro (88), Volkswagen Tiguan (87), Kia Sportage (81), Hyundai Kona (78) and the Renault Captur (78).

Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said 2014 was the last full year that Northern Ireland dealers posted a meaningful increase in sales.

“This is the first month that there has been signs of some pent-up demand for new cars. The Chancellor’s Economic Statement failed to provide any stimulus measures for the car industry.

“During the last recession the sector benefited from a temporary reduction in the rate of VAT and a ‘cash for clunkers’ scheme.

“This time around the temporary VAT cut was targeted at the hospitality sector with the 20 per cent rate slashed to five per cent for six months,” said Mr Ramsey.

“It remains to be seen whether the Chancellor is more sympathetic to the plight of the car industry at the Autumn budget.

“We may see a more targeted ‘cash for clunker’ scheme in due course. This could be linked specifically to the purchase of electric vehicles and incentives targeted at more environmentally friendly vehicles.”

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