New car registrations in Northern Ireland have risen by just over a sixth in the last year – in what is seen as a sign of a strengthening economy.
A report by the Department of the Environment has revealed that there were 55,700 new cars registered here in 2013/14, reversing a downwards trend in recent years.
The spike represents an increase of 16% on last year's figures.
It follows statistics unveiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which showed Northern Ireland had the second highest rate of new car registrations in the UK, with the Ford Fiesta proving the most popular set of wheels.
The newly published DoE Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics 2013/14 report also shows there were over 57,300 Theory Tests conducted during the period.
That equates to a 15% hike on 2012/13, when just under 50,000 such tests were conducted, and it is the first increase recorded in the last five years.
By contrast, the number of people taking a practical driving test fell by 8% to 50,000 during the same period; down by 28% on the 69,500 tests conducted in 2009/10.
Despite a drop in those taking their practical driving test, the pass rates in 2013/14 continued to increase, up by around half a percent on the previous year, to now stand at 58.2%, and representing an overall increase of over six percentage points on the 2010/11 pass rate.
Men had a higher pass rate (63%) than women (51%) in 2013/14. However, the opposite was found with the touch screen theory test where women had a higher pass rate (53%) than men (48%).
The key points from this year's report include:
- There were 1,043,881 applications for vehicle tests during 2013/14, an increase of 2.5% from the previous year, and 13% up on 2009/10.
- The highest growth in full test applications since 2009/10 was for private cars, with a 16.8% increase (103,900 applications) from 617,983 applications in 2009/10 to 721,883 applications in 2013/14.
- The number of appointments provided has increased by 109,874 (11.9%) since 2009/10, from 922,554, to 1,032,428 in 2013/14.
- Customers failed to attend on 22,570 occasions in 2013/14, an increase of 3% on 2012/13.
- There has been an increase in the pass rate for full vehicle tests between 2009/10 (78.1%) and 2013/14 (79.4%).
- There were 51,177 applications for driving tests during 2013/14. This was a reduction of 6.6% from the 54,790 received in 2012/13, and 26.2% below that received in 2009/10 (69,317).
- In total, 50,154 driving tests were provided in 2013/14, including 862 tests where the customer failed to appear. This figure is a reduction of 19,294 tests (27.8%) from 2009/10 where 69,448 tests were provided.
- The overall pass rate for driving tests in 2013/14 was 58.2%, a rise from 52.1% in 2009/10.
Northern Ireland’s top 10
1. Ford Fiesta
2. Renault Clio
3. Ford Focus
4. Volkswagen Golf
5. Renault Captur
6. Vauxhall Astra
7. Vauxhall Corsa
8. Nissan Juke
9. Hyundai I10
10. Dacia Sandero