Belfast Telegraph

Market for new cars revs up as consumer confidence rises

By Rachel Martin

New car sales here rose 6% on this month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Colin McNab, operations director at Northern Ireland's largest car retailer, Charles Hurst Group, put the findings down to increased consumer confidence.

He said: "The SMMT figures are a welcome indicator of improving consumer confidence. We hope to see this growth maintained throughout the rest of 2016.

"The figures highlight the continuing popularity of crossover models. Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles also rose strongly, and we expect this to continue."

More than 4,800 new cars were registered here in February, compared to 4,524 last year.

The car market was raring to go across the UK, with increases seen across all four regions.

The Scottish car market saw the smallest rise, with an increase of just over 1%, while car dealers in England and Wales saw leaps of nearly 10% on new car sales.

Volkswagen returned with a vengeance, with its Golf and Polo cars the second and third most popular new cars to be bought here last month, respectively.

But the Hyundai Tucson nipped in front to take pole position, with 171 sold, just five more than the number of Golfs.

Mark Downey, new car controller at Ballyrobert Bangor, said his dealership had seen strong sales.

"We had a very good January and February, and hopefully March will be the same," he added.

"Used car sales have still been very strong. Northern Ireland traditionally has had quite a strong new car sales market per head of the population. I'm surprised the Corsa hasn't made this month's list because its sales have been very strong for us."

Just over 57,000 new cars were sold across the region last year. While a smaller total overall, new car sales in Northern Ireland in February were over double the number sold in England per head of the region's population. Around 27 people in every 10,000 bought a new car in Northern Ireland last month compared to just 13 in England.

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