Posted on Thursday 7 January 2016 by Ulster Business

New car sales end down ford fiesta most popular

The Ford Fiesta remained the most popular new car in Northern Ireland in 2015

By David Elliott

The number of new cars leaving Northern Ireland’s forecourts dipped slightly in 2015, according to new figures released by the industry.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 57,097 new cars were registered here for the year as a whole, 0.18% down on 2014.

That reverses an early ramp up in new car sales in early 2015 and dashes hope of a strong recovery.

Economists have put the weak finish to the year down to a mixture of public sector austerity and political instability.

When it comes to the most popular make of car, the Ford Fiesta is far and away the biggest seller in Northern Ireland with 2,407 new keys handed over.

Second was the Volkswagen Golf with 1,856, while the Ford Focus took the third place with 1,713 and the Volkswagen Polo with 1,587.

For the UK as a whole, new car registrations were mixed.

In Scotland, they fell by 0.46% while in Scotland new car registrations climbed by 2.53% and in England up 7.39%.

New car sales are often seen as a good indicator of consumer confidence and the latest figures from Northern Ireland offer an insight into financial mood.

Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank, said the forecourts have missed out with on the boost to spending elsewhere.

“2015 was a good year for household finances, with falling food and energy prices, coupled with a return of pay rises, boosting disposable incomes. This has led to Northern Ireland experiencing a retail mini-boom of sorts during recent months.”

“However, local car showrooms appear to have been left out of the party. The latest SMMT figures show that whilst the UK as a whole saw new car sales hit a record high in 2015, Northern Ireland new car sales remain in the slow lane, recording the first annual fall – albeit a very small one - since 2011.”

“There is a marked contrast between England (+7.39%) and Northern Ireland (-0.18%). Scotland was at the back of the grid however, with new car sales falling -0.46% in 2015 and 10.51% in December alone, as the significant fall in global oil prices continues to impact on Scotland’s oil-industry-dependent economy. Falling oil prices may be good for Scottish motorists, but not for the Scottish economy.”

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