Wrightbus sales in UK down by third in space of a year
The number of new Wrightbus vehicles sold across the UK has fallen by more than a third in the last year, according to new industry figures.
There were 503 new vehicles from the Ballymena bus-maker registered in the UK during the course of 2016. That was down by 37% on the year before, from 799.
That's according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Wrightbus is one of Northern Ireland's largest manufacturers and is the company behind London's red Routemasters - or so-called Boris buses, named after former Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
It's understood the SMMT figures do not include buses which Wrightbus has produced for other bus manufacturers.
Overall, the number of buses and coaches sold in Northern Ireland dropped by a third in 2016 across all makers. Last year 112 were registered, down from 168 in 2015.
The figures also only include sales in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK, and not the Republic.
Last month it was revealed Wrightbus could be in line for a deal to sell hundreds of new buses to London in the next five years, after the sale of its current Routemasters to the capital comes to an end.
The company is to complete a total order for 1,000 of the Routemaster buses to Transport for London (TfL).
North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley said he expects Wrights Group "to be well-placed to successfully win a considerable part of ongoing London bus contracts, as they come forward over the next three years".
London Mayor Sadiq Khan had already pledged to stop buying pure diesel double deckers from 2018, in favour of using more environmentally-friendly vehicles.
The Routemasters were one of former London Mayor Boris Johnson's highest profile purchases during his time in office.
Earlier this year it was revealed that Wrightbus is carrying out an update on its Routemaster buses after a software glitch caused a problem with its doors.
More than 400 Routemasters are to be brought back to garages in the city.
Overall, the UK's new bus and coach market saw a second year of growth.
Sales increased by 8% during the course of 2016, with 8,779 new buses and coaches registered.
And during the last quarter, more than 2,000 registrations were made, which was up 4.6% on the same period a year earlier.
According to the SMMT, double-decker buses continued to drive growth in 2016, with full year demand rising by more than a quarter to 1,927 units.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "2016 proved to be another strong year for the British bus and coach market, with many operators investing in their fleets over the past 12 months."