The Ford Focus ranked fifth in August’s new car sales chart

New car sales in Northern Ireland rose by nearly 11% last month, with the improving picture helped by continued strong demand among consumers for the very latest battery-equipped models.

A total of 2,998 deals were agreed during August compared to 2,702 in the same period last year, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have shown.

The positive gains also mean the number of new cars sold in the first eight months of 2022 (26,896) has surpassed that from January to August 2021 (26,798).

Sport Utility Vehicles and Crossovers continue to dominate the sales charts in the UK, with that also reflected closer to home.

The Tucson from Hyundai was the big winner here (103) followed by Ford’s Kuga (100) and smaller Puma (95). Budget brand Dacia came in fourth with its Sandero (93) – 12 more units than the Focus hatchback, which is due to cease production by 2025.

Nationally, the UK new car market rose by 1.2% in August – the first sea change experienced since February – with 68,858 new vehicles joining the road. This was driven by battery electric vehicles (BEVs) which recorded a 35.4% increase in volumes and a 14.5% market share.

Although interest in zero-emission vehicles remains strong, the SMMT says there are indicators that this may be cooling as a year-to-date increase of 48.8% is down significantly on the 101.9% that was enjoyed by the sector at the end of the first three months of this year.

Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) registrations fell by 23.1% in August but still accounted for one in five (20.2%) of August’s registrations, while hybrid electric vehicle registrations remained relatively stable, falling by 0.7%.

Superminis remained the most popular vehicle class and grew its market share to 34% as 7.4% more of them were delivered to customers than in August 2021. The UK’s top seller last month was the Volkswagen Polo (1,902), while the Vauxhall Corsa cemented its position as the most popular nameplate of 2022 so far (25,941).

Mike Hawes – the SMMT Chief Executive – said: “August’s new car market growth is welcome, but marginal during a low volume month. Spiralling energy costs and inflation on top of sustained supply chain challenges are piling even more pressure on the automotive industry’s post-pandemic recovery, and we urgently need the new Prime Minister to tackle these challenges and restore confidence and sustainable growth.

“With September traditionally a bumper time for new car uptake, the next month will be the true barometer of industry recovery as it accelerates the transition to zero emission mobility despite the myriad challenges,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Hawes welcomed the appointment of Liz Truss as the new British Prime Minister but warned she will have no time for a honeymoon period given the fears surrounding soaring energy prices.

“The new Prime Minister faces immense challenges, not least the urgent need for measures to mitigate the crippling effect of skyrocketing energy prices on businesses and households. Reducing the cost of doing business must be a priority,” he said.

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