Ford Fiestas ruling the road as car sales surge
Northern Ireland has recorded the second highest rate of new car registrations in the UK, with the Ford Fiesta proving the most popular set of wheels.
Car sales grew by a higher percentage in Northern Ireland in the year to March 2014 than England and Scotland, with sales revving up by 16.68%, with only Wales registering a marginally higher increase of 16.7%.
The new statistics have been flagged as pointing to an "ongoing recovery" in the sector.
And Ulster Bank chief economist, Richard Ramsey, said the choice of cars ending up on the road showed people were more concerned with value for money than any other factor.
Some 18,654 new cars were recorded in the 12 months to March 2014, up 16.68% from the same period in 2013 when 15,987 new cars were bought.
The figures were unveiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The Ford Fiesta proved the motor of choice for 312 drivers so far this year, while in second place, the Renault Clio was registered as new by 236 motorists.
In third, another Ford, the Focus, was close at the Clio's heels, with 230 new cars registered, followed by the Volkswagen Golf in fourth place, the Renault Captur in fifth, Vauxhall's Astra and Corsa taking sixth and seventh places.
Occupying the bottom of the list were the Nissan Juke in eight place, the Hyundai I10 in ninth and the Dacha Sander the top 10 car purchased by the least number of people, with 154 new registrations. Mr Ramsey said the figures paint a picture of returning confidence. "Northern Ireland has now recorded year-on-year increases in new car sales for the 14 months in a row," he added. "Furthermore, last month represented the best March for new car sales in six years.
"Last month's new car sales of 7,574 were 18% higher than the same period last year," he said.
He pointed out, however, that last month's sales were almost 18% below the the peak in March 2007. "This compares with the UK where new car sales over the same period are just 2% below their pre-downturn peak."
The economist pointed out that in the Republic of Ireland, new car sales have been rising strongly from very low levels, up a over a quarter to March but still 55% below the 2007 peak. Neither the Hyundai I10 nor the Dacha Sander appeared in the top 10 in any other UK region.