15% rise in sales of new cars good for economy in Northern Ireland
New car sales in Northern Ireland were up nearly 15% in the first four months of 2014 – the largest percentage increase of the UK nations.
Ford Fiestas were edging past Volkswagen Golfs as the best-selling car in the year so far although the Golf was top seller in April.
Growing car sales indicate economic recovery is taking hold continuing with consumers feeling more confident that they can afford a new set of wheels.
According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there were 23,057 new cars registered in Northern Ireland in the first four months of this year, up 15% from the same time a year earlier.
In the month of April alone, there were 4,403 new sets of keys handed out, up nearly 7% on April 2013.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the latest SMMT figures for Northern Ireland marked the 15th year-on-year rise in new car sales but we were still lagging behind the UK.
"It is noted that last month's new car sales figures for the UK represented the 26th consecutive month of year-on-year new car sales," he said.
And Northern Ireland's new car sales were still further below their pre-downturn peak than the UK. "The latter has recouped almost all of its decline in new car sales that followed the recession," Mr Ramsey said.
"So far, Northern Ireland has recouped 40% of the decrease in new car sales that followed the downturn. And our taste in cars had also evolved, thanks to the era of austerity.
"The overall sales figures conceal changing patterns of consumer behaviour. For example, there has been a move towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles and value-for-money brands."