Car registrations rocketed in Northern Ireland last summer — the first yearly rise since the end of 2007.
New Department for Regional Development figures for the quarter July to September 2009 revealed that the number of new and used cars registered for the first time rose to 23,548.
Of these, 64% (15,063) were new cars, suggesting a major success for the Government’s Car Scrappage Scheme.
It’s a promising sign for Northern Ireland’s beleaguered car market, which has seen registrations drop by as much as one-third at some points since the recession began to bite.
According to the latest edition of the Northern Ireland Road and Rail Transport Statistics, the number of new and used cars registered for the first time during the quarter has increased by 14% on the same quarter the previous year.
The quarterly publication collates data from a number of sources including the Driver and Vehicle Agency and Translink.
“This is the first quarter since October to December 2007 to show an increase when compared to the corresponding time period in the previous year,” a spokesman said.
“Ford was the most popular make of new car during July to September 2009, accounting for 12% (1,797) of all new cars registered.
“The second and third most popular makes of new car were Vauxhall (1,342) and Volkswagen (1,296) respectively.
“Of the 830 heavy goods vehicles registered for the first time in Northern Ireland, 69% (573) were previously used vehicles.”
Northern Bank chief economist Angela McGowan predicted new registrations may have increased further towards the end of 2009 as customers purchased ahead of the January VAT increase.
“Without doubt the car scrappage scheme and the lower VAT rate in quarter three last year will have supported car sales at the local level, which were up 23% from the previous quarter,” she said.
“However, even with the scrappage scheme in place new car registrations were still 13.3% below the quarter three historical average, which has sat around 17,383 over the previous nine years.
“The trend appears to show a rising demand for smaller cars, with Ford being particularly popular.
“Smaller cars capture the largest proportional discount when using the scrappage scheme — an incentive of £2,000 to trade old cars for newer ones. In addition, smaller cars reflect the growing consumer desire for fuel efficiency and less ostentatious purchases.”