Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland top 10 car sales for January 2016: Ford, VW and Vauxhall among top sellers

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland is once again the only region in the UK which is seeing new car sales fall, the latest figures have shown.

While the UK as a whole saw sales up around 3% - buoyed by strong growth in England - the number of cars powering out of showrooms fell by 2.6% in Northern Ireland last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

More than 57,000 cars were sold in Northern Ireland last year, which was a small reduction in the number of vehicles rolling off forecourts a year earlier.

But Northern Ireland's car market appears to be off to a shaky start to the new year.

Around 167 fewer cars were sold in January than in the same period in 2015. A total of 6,189 vehicles were shifted during the month.

But England's new car market was boosted by 3.6%, while Scotland increased by 2%. Wales only saw sales creep up by 0.5%.

And the types of cars being sold here remains roughly the same, with the Ford Fiesta topping the list, followed by the Volkswagen Golf and Polo in second and third.

There's a growing divergence between sales here, and the rest of the UK, which goes against a rise in consumer confidence, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey.

"It's an ongoing divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. However, new car sales figures appear to be somewhat at odds with consumer sentiment, which has been buoyed up by falling fuel and energy prices, with rising disposable incomes.

"Northern Ireland has started in reverse after last year, which was pretty much flat. One thing which could be an issue is motability.

"Almost one in four new car sales is part of the motability scheme, which is two-and-a-half times the UK average.

"The issue is in the rest of the UK, sales are continuing to rise. There's a mismatch, when the cost of living is falling and there are no interest rates rises on the horizon.

"It may be the case that people are being more reticent about big ticket item purchases, while retail and hospitality are more buoyant."

But aside from the hatchbacks and family saloons, the sale of some top-end luxury motors are on the up.

That includes Porsche, with sales increasing by more than half last year.

Belfast Telegraph