Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland motor industry could hit 'sweet spot' as sales continue to climb

By John Mulgrew

The Northern Ireland car market could find itself in a "sweet spot" as sales continue to climb and oil prices plummet.

Colin McNab, operations director for Charles Hurst, said while "economic recovery" had played its part, the "sheer volume of incentives and discounts" had also been responsible for increased sales.

"This is a good, solid annual performance for Northern Ireland and while pre-recession new car sales of 69,000 registered in 2007 remains some way off, we still expect growth in this market to continue for some time yet," he said.

"We remain highly-reliant on our cars and newer vehicles are simply cheaper to run, tax and maintain."

Malcolm Kerr, managing director of Donnelly Group, said the increased activity on the forecourt was another sign of a boost in consumer confidence.

"Given the price point, small cars dominate the top 10 based on volume of sales, but it is interesting to witness the rise of SUVs such as the Nissan Juke and Qashqai plus Renault Captur," he said.

Sales of electric plug-in cars rocketed four-fold across the UK in 2014 - with positive sales figures also replicated at Donnelly Group.

"While small vehicles will dominate the market for some years yet, we are witnessing the slow rise of a new dawn in motoring" Mr Kerr said.

And Ulster Bank's chief economist Richard Ramsey predicted another sales boost of around 10% in 2015.

"People are going to benefit from falling petrol prices, which are going to drop below £1 per litre," he said.

"The new car sales market could see itself in a sweet spot."

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