SMMT: New car sales recovered to pre-Covid levels in Northern Ireland during January

The 5,199 new cars registered last month was 11% up on January 2023 and 3% higher than January 2020

Whether you operate a small independent forecourt or a large car dealership, having adequate insurance can protect you and your business from potential liabilities and financial losses.
New industry data shows Northern Ireland car dealers have enjoyed their best start to the year since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

New car dealers in Northern Ireland enjoyed their best start to the year since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures suggest.

Some 5,199 new cars were registered in the north during January 2024 according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It represented a 10.9% increase on the 4,687 new cars registered in January 2023.

But crucially, sales in January 2024 exceeded the 5,030 new cars sold in Northern Ireland during January 2020.

The Hyundai Tucson was the north’s best-selling new car, with 181 models registered in January.

Eight of the top ten best-selling cars shifted more than 100 models last month.

It marks a significant milestone in the local car industry’s path to recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns and the disruption to the global supply chain.

The Tucson’s powertrain focuses on efficiency
The Hyundai Tucson was the best-selling new car in the north during January 2024, according to new SMMT data.

Just 24 new cars were sold in the whole of Northern Ireland in April 2020.

That recovered to 2,324 by January 2021, rising to 4,161 in January 2022.

While car dealerships here started 2024 at 2020 levels, motor sales were already in a downward trend before the pandemic.

The 5,030 new cars registered in January 2020 was 11% down on the 5,660 sold in January 2019.

The north’s new car dealers were seeing 6,356 new cars roll out of forecourts back in January 2015.

Top TenCar make and modelJanuary sales
1Hyundai Tucson181
2Kia Sportage168
3Ford Puma155
4Peugeot 2008130
5Vauxhall Grandland115
6Volkswagen Golf115
7MG HS108
8Volkswagen T-Roc100
9BMW 1 Series99
10Nissan Qashqai98

The SMMT said the 10.9% year-on-year increase in Northern Ireland during January was higher than England (8.1%), Scotland (9.8%) and Wales (6.5%).

Meanwhile, the trade body announced another major milestone for the car industry.

The SMMT said the millionth pure battery electric new car was registered in the UK during January.

Only around 674,000 pure battery electric cars were licensed for use in the UK by the end of 2022.

The SMMT expects pure battery electrics to account for more than one in five new UK cars registered this year.

The SMMT is calling on the Treasury to temporarily halve VAT on new pure battery electric cars to encourage more people to make the switch from conventionally fuelled vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It’s taken just over 20 years to reach our million EV milestone but with the right policies, we can double down on that success in just another two.

“Market growth is currently dependent on businesses and fleets.

“Government must, therefore, use the upcoming Budget to support private EV buyers, temporarily halving VAT to cut carbon, drive economic growth and help everyone make the switch.

“Manufacturers have been asked to supply the vehicles. We now ask Government to help consumers buy the vehicles on which net zero depends.”