Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland new car sales plunge

Cars sales in Northern Ireland have dropped again, ending a year of relative recovery for the industry.

The end of the car scrappage scheme - which saw buyers given £2,000 in exchange for used cars over 10-years-old - is likely to have been a major factor in the 11% decrease.

The figures from the Department of Regional Development cover the third quarter of last year, three months after the Government subsidy initiative ended.

The latest fall in new and used car registrations comes after a period of relative recovery triggered when the scheme was introduced in the budget in May 2009.

There were almost 21,000 cars registered for the first time in Northern Ireland between July and September last year - an 11% drop on the corresponding three months in 2009.

It is the first time since April to June 2009 that has seen a decrease compared to the situation in the previous year, according to the data from the DRD's Central Statistics and Research Branch.

A DRD spokeswoman said it was too early to tell whether the decrease would continue.

"This is the first time there has been a decrease for the last four quarters but maybe it's a bit soon to say this is going to happen again," she said.

"We would need to examine the next one or two quarters to assess whether it's a blip or a downward trend."

Vauxhall was the most popular make of new car registered, accounting for 11% (1,464) of all new cars.

The second and third were Ford (1,412) and Renault (1,152) respectively.

Of the 635 heavy goods vehicles registered for the first time in the region during the quarter, around three in four (76%) were previously used vehicles.

In terms of used vehicles, the figures only account for those registered for the first time in Northern Ireland - ie vehicles that have been imported - and not second hand sales within the region.

The statistics also cover public transport use in Northern Ireland.

In the quarter there was a weekly average of 990,000 public bus passenger journeys, a decrease of 3% from 1.02 million in the corresponding quarter of 2009.

But during the same time period, weekly average bus passenger receipts increased by 1% to £1.78 million from £1.77 million.

The weekly average rail passenger journeys in July to September 2010 were the same as the corresponding quarter of 2009 - 0.19 million.

During the same time period, weekly average rail passenger receipts increased by 5% to £0.60 million from £0.57 million.

The figures also showed that in the last year, the pass rate for car 'L' driver tests was 57% for males and 47% for females in Northern Ireland, compared to 50% for males and 43% for females in Great Britain.

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