Belfast Telegraph

Brexit doubts blamed as new car sale slump in Northern Ireland

 

By Brett Campbell

New car sales in Northern Ireland continue to slump but performance remains better than elsewhere in the UK.

Sales in the province fell 2.3% in July - but the UK as a whole saw a decline of 9.3% compared to the same period last year.

According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there were 3,811 new cars sold here last month, down from 3,899 in July 2016.

So far this year sales have fallen by 5.1%.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: "The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock-on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit."

The Volkswagen Golf topped sales here last month with 156 vehicles bought.

The Hyundai Tucson came in a close second with 149 cars shifted, and was followed by the Skoda Fabia with 117 purchased.

Last month saw 161,997 new vehicles registered in the UK but that number - the lowest for the same period since 2012 - is less than the previous month, which saw the registration of just over 243,000 new vehicles.

Scotland experienced the biggest decrease of new cars with a fall of 13.7%, closely followed by Wales (12.5%) and England (9%).

Demand has also fallen across business, fleet and private buyers throughout the UK with a decline of 23.8%, 10.1% and 6.8% respectively.

On Thursday the Bank of England flagged weak private new car sales in the year to date as a signal of faltering consumer confidence in its inflation report which outlined the expectation "sluggish" growth will continue.

But the figures also showed demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continues to soar with an increase of 64.9%.

AFV's increased record market share (5.5%) has resulted in the amount of new petrol and diesel cars falling by 3% and 20.1%.

Mr Hawes added: "Consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government's clean air plans.

"There are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 models and no proposed bans for conventional petrol and diesel vehicles for some 23 years."

NI's Top 10 biggest selling cars in July

1. Volkswagen Golf 156

2. Hyundai Tucson 149

3. Skoda Fabia 117

4. Seat Leon 115

5. Ford Kuga 101

6. Kia Sportage 99

7. Ford Focus 89

8. Ford Fiesta 74

9. Nisan Qashqai 69

10. Audi A3 68

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