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Imports remain a threat to Northern Ireland's new car retailers

The recent spate of price cuts by the biggest manufacturers has failed to convince "rip-off Britain" hardliners that new cars are as cheap as they should be, according to Paul Prentice, chairman of the Retail Motor Industry Federation's Northern Ireland region.

"Motor dealers have seen used car values drop like a stone during the past 12 months and, in spite of repeated denials that new car prices would not drop," he said in his speech at the Ulster Motor Dinner. Motor manufacturers have had to realign their pricing structures following the Department of Trade and Industry Competition Report, Mr Prentice continued, and the introduction of the Supply of New Cars Order 2000.

"These price reductions have gone some way to enable dealers to compete against imports. But there are still some potential buyers who are not convinced that prices have reached their correct market level. "Imports are still accounting for a major percentage of the new car and commercial market in the Province."

Figures to September 30 show that 22% of all new cars and a "staggering" 70% of the van market are imported.

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