2016 was another record breaking year for global car sales. Over 88 million cars and light commercial vehicles were sold last year, an annual increase of almost 5%.
China was the main driver behind the strong growth with sales picking up by 13%, the EU also saw an impressive 7% gain with sales in the US up just a fraction.
Meanwhile the UK’s new car market notched up its fifth consecutive year of growth in 2016. Last year’s 2% y/y gain took sales to a record high.
NI continues to lag UK
Mirroring the wider economic picture, Northern Ireland continues to lag behind the UK new car sales market. Overall, the local market was flat in 2016 (+0.4%) for the second year running.
However, this disappointing headline conceals contrasting fortunes among different brands. Indeed, there was no shortage of record sales figures on a variety of fronts. This underscores the point that headlines can present a misleading picture of the various sub-markets that exist within an overall market.
But sales of premium brands at record high
In Northern Ireland, sales of premium brands (Audi, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover & Volvo) hit a record high in 2016. The 13% y/y increase represented the fifth consecutive rate of growth and the fastest rate of growth since 2001.
Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Volvo reported their best sales volumes on record in 2016.
Vauxhall and Peugeot have worst NI year since 1999
Conversely, the non-premium brands posted their second successive annual fall with a 2% decline in 2016. Peugeot (-14%), Fiat (-15%) and Vauxhall (-21%) all posted significant double-digit declines. Last year marked the worst year for car sales for Vauxhall and Peugeot since at least 1999.
While sales of premium car brands last year were almost 12% above 2007 levels, the number of non-premium brand cars sold was 21% below the corresponding level in 2007.