New Porsche showroom for Belfast as sales motor on in Northern Ireland
Luxury car maker Porsche is planning a new multi-million-pound showroom in Belfast as Northern Ireland sales of the marque increased by more than half in the space of a year.
Sales of the top-end motors reached an eight-year high here in 2015, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Now a planning application has been submitted by Isaac Agnew Holdings to develop a Porsche car centre for sales and servicing in the Titanic Quarter.
There's already one Porsche dealership in the city, at Boucher Road in south Belfast.
Porsche sold 205 models in Northern Ireland last year. That was up 55% from 2014.
Demand for the make outstripped the rest of the United Kingdom, where sales only increased by a third.
Total UK sales last year rose to 12,000-plus.
Porsche sales were bolstered in Northern Ireland by the popularity of its 4x4s.
Last year it sold almost double the number of its £50,000-plus Cayenne SUVs compared to 2014.
And its Macan model - which has a price tag of £40,000 and above - sold almost three times as many in 2015.
Sales of high-end 4x4s are up across the board, with more drivers buying popular models such as BMW's X5.
Sales of 4x4s rose by a quarter between 2014 and 2015.
It seems local motorists are less concerned about driving cars which are very fuel efficient, with oil prices now at a 13-year low.
According to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey: "If you look at overall new car sales in Northern Ireland, we are pretty much flat.
"But what this highlights is how, within any industry or sector, different brands and models are doing well.
"With Porsche and other brands, there has been a recovery where obviously there is increased consumer confidence in some sections of society, while others continue to struggle.
"With oil and petrol prices falling, there's a move towards 4x4s.
"That's symptomatic of what is happening elsewhere."
Northern Ireland's richer residents have seen an increase in their wealth over the last year, according to Dr Colm Murphy, compiler of the Irish Sunday Times Rich List.
"A lot of the assets of wealthier people in Northern Ireland are in property, and a lot has to do with the recovery in the property market," he explained.
"We are coming near to going through nine years of a downturn, and the figures are at a fairly low base, so you are going to see quite startling jumps for cars and other high-end goods."
The new Porsche dealership will comprise part of a larger site owned by Issac Agnew Group that already includes an Audi dealership.
It is the latest luxury car brand to invest in a new dealership in Belfast.
In September it was revealed that Charles Hurst was to build a multi-million pound Jaguar Land Rover dealership in south Belfast at the former headquarters of drinks giant Diageo, to help meet the growing demand for luxury vehicles.
Other sports car dealers in Northern Ireland include Ferrari and Maserati, which are sold here by Charles Hurst.