Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 13:26 UK

Car dealers feeling credit crunch

By John Cunningham
BBC News

Cars on forecourt
Sales of family cars are decreasing as consumers feel the credit crunch

Northern Ireland's car dealers are feeling the pain of the credit crunch with sales down 11% compared to the same time last year.

While mainstream family cars remain on the forecourt, sales of prestige motors are increasing with the 78,500 Maserati Gran Turismo up 15%.

Small hatchbacks are still at the top of the sales charts.

But overall it's a tough time for car retailers with a marked decrease since the beginning of the year.

Last spring sales were buoyed by the boom in house prices but the decline in the property market has left many car owners forced to hang on to the old model.

It's a different story at the top end of the market where cars like the 120,000 Bentley Continental and the 143,000 Ferrari 430 are up 2%.

Ian Sinnomon, sales manager at Charles Hurst, said he was confident about the market.

"The top end of the market is actually reasonably healthy.

"We see a wide range of people coming in to buy these cars from property developers to lottery winners."

But with a Bentley Continental starting at 120,000, driving the car of your dreams doesn't come cheap.

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