Business

NI consumers braced for higher prices and longer waits for used cars

Just 2,702 new cars were sold in Northern Ireland during August as the global shortage of semiconductors hit vehicle production.

CONSUMERS in the north are braced for increasingly higher prices and longer delays in the used car market as the shortage of new vehicles continues to hit the motor industry.

The global scarcity of semiconductors combined with a shortage of HGV drivers and rising fuel costs is expected to drive prices higher over the coming weeks and months.

The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed the UK’s weakest August for new car sales since 2013.

But the decline was even more pronounced in Northern Ireland, where just 2,702 new cars were registered during August, some 25 per cent below the 3,618 sold during the same month last year.

Pent-up demand during last year’s lockdown did result in a year-on-year rise in sales last August.

But the SMMT said the global shortage of semiconductors, an issue it described as being “born of the pandemic”, continues to undermine production volumes.

New car registrations during August 2021 were 20.1 per cent down on 2019 levels.

The 26,798 sales for the first eight months of 2021 to date is 39 per cent down on the same period in 2019, equal to just over 11,000 fewer new cars on the road.

That has had a knock-on impact on the used car market, with demand far outstripping supply, driving prices higher.

The Toyota Yaris was the north’s top selling car in August with 81 sold, just ahead of the Kia Sportage (80). It took 137 sales for the Hyundair Tucson to top the chart in August 2020.

Northern Ireland’s used car trade normally feeds off a steady supply of second-hand motors from Britain.

But industry insiders, including car transportation companies, have reported an escalating situation, with used cars becoming increasingly scarce over the past two months.

One trader said that until the shortage in new production cars is addressed, stock will continue to dwindle, while prices will go the other way.

Northern Ireland transport firms are also facing a shortage of HGV drivers, a problem which continues to hit the UK’s post-Brexit supply chain economy.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “While August is normally one of the quietest months for UK new car registrations these figures are still disappointing, albeit not wholly surprising.

“The global shortage of semiconductors has affected UK, and indeed global, car production volumes so new car registrations will inevitably be undermined.

“Government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures in place currently, especially the furlough scheme which has proven invaluable to so many businesses,” he said.

“As we enter the important September plate-change month with an ever-increasing range of electrified models and attractive deals, buyers in the market for the new 71 plate can be reassured manufacturers are doing all they can to ensure prompt deliveries.”

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