Registrations of new cars in Northern Ireland slumped by 30% in the last 12 months — 9% above the national average — according to new figures.
The latest statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) are a further indication of the economic downturn in the province.
New car registrations in the UK have fallen for the fifth consecutive month.
At the end of September there were 5,389 new cars registered in Northern Ireland compared to 7,719 registered in the same period last year, a 30.19% drop.
In the UK average new car registrations fell by 21.2% in September to 330,295.
Since April 2008, the 12 month rolling total has dropped by almost 150,000, with September accounting for 60% of this fall.
To date this year 50,301 new cars have been registered in Northern Ireland compared with 59,585 for the same period in 2007, a 15.58% drop.
New business registrations in the UK were also hit hard, falling 37%. New private registrations were down 23% and new fleet registrations were down 16%.
However small cars, including Smart and Vauxhall's Agila models reported growth in the month.
The Vauxhall Corsa was the best selling car in September but the Ford Focus remains the UK's best seller this year.
The SMMT said recent news on the banking sector, further slowdown in the housing market and rising unemployment has knocked confidence.
The organisation added that “it may be some time before it is restored”, unless swift action is taken. The SMMT said that it may not be before quarter three next year that the market stabilises.
Following the latest monthly figures the SMMT has urged the government to take immediate action to restore consumer confidence.
“New car registrations have fallen for the fifth consecutive month and represent the most difficult economic conditions the industry has faced in 17 years,” Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said.
“Government action is now needed to restore consumer confidence and boost demand in the real economy.”