According to today’s SMMT new car sales figures, demand for a new set of wheels in Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain continues to wane. UK dealers saw new car sales plunge by one-fifth in September relative to last year. Locally, NI car showrooms saw almost 1,000 fewer vehicles sold last month relative to September 2017. That represents a decline of 15% y/y. Some 5,365 vehicles were sold last month in Northern Ireland, which represents the quietest September in seven years.
The latest figures continue the trend of falling new car sales that has been evident since early 2016. This year is on course for the weakest new car sales in six years. Some 43,772 new cars were sold during the first nine months of the year. That’s almost 5% lower than the corresponding period last year and 27% below 2007’s peak.
Consumers’ disposable incomes have been squeezed by inflation. Rising food, motor fuel and utility bills are set to see this trend continue into 2019. This is only part of the story. The European motor industry is being disrupted by new emissions standards. Car manufacturers have struggled to adapt quickly to this new regime. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit is impacting on the sector too. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit could significantly disrupt the supply chains of Europe’s auto industry. This would affect the supply of new cars in 2019 irrespective of what demand is there.