New car sales slow down as market for used models is driven up by 10%
Used car sales in Northern Ireland are leaving the new vehicle market in the slow lane with 10% sales growth in 2016, new figures show.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said there were 270,967 used cars sold in Northern Ireland last year.
And the province's 10% growth was higher than the UK market as a whole, where there was a 7.3% uplift in the market.
In contrast, new car sales in Northern Ireland grew by just 0.4% in 2016, while the UK market had record growth of 2.3%.
The province's top five best sellers in the used car market featured the Volkswagen Golf at number one, the Ford Focus at two, while Vauxhall claimed the third and fifth place with the Astra and Corsa respectively.
The Ford Fiesta - Northern Ireland's most popular new car in 2016 - was at number four in the old car category.
Colin McNab, operations director at car dealer Charles Hurst - which has a large used car operation - said: "The latest figures underline the fact that there is no sign that overall consumer demand for cars is reducing in Northern Ireland, where interest in nearly-new and used cars is well ahead of last year."
And he said growth in new car purchase options was in turn driving the used car market.
"It's important to point out it is new car sales which helps to provide a steady stream of high-quality used and nearly-new stock when these vehicles become available, which is the result of affordable and flexible financing options, including personal contract purchase," he said.
"These cars are well-maintained with a full service history and relatively low mileage so they're very attractive to those interested in buying a used car."
And he said 'trading up' to a nearly-new or used car was a strong part of the NI market.
"Stock levels of used cars are good following years of strong new car sales, which means there is strong value and enhanced reliability to be had across a range of models," he added.
"Furthermore, it is nearly-new cars of between one and three years that are the biggest sellers at the moment, with the wide array of financing options and choice encouraging people to replace their cars more regularly.
"Indeed, with such good stock in supply, local consumers are now able to invest in a nearly-new car as and when they feel the need, rather than having to spend months waiting for the right one to come along."
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said growth in the used car market was "further good news" for all of the car market.
"Strong demand is testament to the quality, reliability and appeal of cars on sale today, with used buyers enjoying more choice, more low emission, safety and connected technology than ever," he added.
The number of used cars that were sold in Northern last year, as reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders