New car sales in Northern Ireland slumped by almost a third last month as drivers steered away from sweeping tax changes.
Some 3,303 vehicles powered out of showrooms across Northern Ireland in April. That's down 29%, from 4,658 during the same month a year earlier, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Many buyers brought forward purchases to March, ahead of new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates coming into force on April 1, according to the trade body.
All new cars, except for those with zero emissions, are now subject to an annual flat rate charge.
RAC research found the vast majority of drivers buying new cars are paying significantly more following the change.
The top selling car in Northern Ireland is now the Hyundai Tucson, with 106 vehicles sold, with the Ford Focus in second place on 102.
Mike Hawes, SMMT, chief executive, said: “With the rush to register new cars and avoid VED tax rises before the end of March, as well as fewer selling days due to the later Easter, April was always going to be much slower.
“It’s important to note that the market remains at record levels as customers still see many benefits in purchasing a new car. We therefore expect demand to stabilise over the year as the turbulence created by these tax changes decreases.”