Belfast Telegraph

Purchases of new cars dropped by 7% in 2011

By Margaret Canning

New car registrations in Northern Ireland have fallen by nearly 7% on the year before, according to fresh figures.

The statistics from the Department for Regional Development (DRD) said there were 12,062 new motors registered between June and September 2011.

Including used cars, there were 20,013 vehicles registered with new owners, down 4.4% on 2010. Vauxhall was the most popular make of new car.

Northern Bank chief economist Angela McGowan said: "The third quarter 10-year average for 'new' car sales in Northern Ireland is around 15,950 so the latest data suggests this industry is still operating below that average.

"Nonetheless, the latest year-on-year decline of 6.7% in new cars is nowhere near the hefty double-digit annual declines experienced in 2008 and 2010.

"This industry has benefited from relatively strong sales in the used cars sector, which has remained fairly resilient given the overall weak domestic demand in the economy."

She said car dealers were fighting against weak demand by offering competitive deals on new cars and focusing on warranty cover and free services to give customers an incentive to buy new.

But the economist added: "Overall this industry will be hoping for an improvement in consumer confidence this year as the demand for 'big ticket' items increases when confidence is restored."

The then-Labour Government developed a car scrappage scheme in 2009 to give people an incentive to trade in their older cars.

In the quarter June to September 2009, the number of cars registered rose to 23,548, of which 15,063 were new.