Supply bottlenecks strangling new car sales in Northern Ireland, industry data shows

The SMMT said the shortage of semiconductor microchips is stifling the new car market even more than last year's lockdown.
Ryan McAleer

SUPPLY bottlenecks is continuing to strangle the performance of the north’s car retailers, the latest industry data shows.

Just 3,539 new cars were registered here last month, 13 per cent below June 2021, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Sales were only marginally above the 3,278 sold in June 2020, when car showrooms were still partly under Covid-19 restrictions.

It made last month one of the worst on record for the industry. SMMT data showed dealers sold 1,631 fewer cars than the pre-pandemic levels of June 2019.

Compared with the first six months of 2019, the 21,139 new cars sold in the north this year represents a fall of 9,700 vehicles.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said UK wide, the global shortage of semiconductor microchips is stifling the new car market even more than last year's lockdown.

"Electric vehicle demand continues to be the one bright spot, as more electric cars than ever take to the road,” he said.

"But, while this growth is welcome, it is not yet enough to offset weak overall volumes, which has huge implications for fleet renewal and our ability to meet overall carbon reduction targets.”

Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said the shortage of components is being compounded by pandemic restrictions in China and the war in Ukraine.

“As a result, supplier delivery times of new cars remain abnormally long,” he said.

“Supply bottlenecks rather than a lack of demand is the primary concern amongst new car dealerships across Northern Ireland. “

The total number of new cars sold between January and June 2022 was 1.4 per cent up on 2021, but the supply constraints mean sales are on course to fall behind 2021 levels this summer.

Richard Ramsey said when compared against the pre-covid average over the past 16 years, sales are down by almost 12,000 cars in the first half of the year.

“The disruption to new vehicle production, which is now well into its third year, is impacting on both the rental and used car markets,” said the economist.

“Those people hiring cars over the summer will not fail to notice the price surge that has occurred.

“Prices in both these markets have soared due to the lack of new supply. New car sales were once a key barometer of consumer confidence.

“Instead, now they are an indicator of supply chain disruption. Given the economic slowdown that now appears to be in train, dealers are likely to find that once supply disruptions eventually ease, underlying demand will have softened too.”

Top 10 new cars sold in Northern Ireland (June 2022)

1 Hyundai Tucson - 114

2 Ford Kuga - 111

3 Ford Puma - 111

4 VauxhalL Corsa - 109

5 Volkswagen golf - 88

6 Dacia Sandero - 81

7 MG HS - 71

8 Peugeot 3008 - 71

9 Ford Ecosport - 70

10 Ford Fiesta - 67