New car sales down 18.5% on last January
Sales of new cars in January were down 18.5 per cent year on year. Last month 17,277 new cars were registered with the new 131 number plates, compared with 21,209 registered in January last year.
The disappointing state of the market would have been far worse were it not for a last-minute surge in registrations. On January 31st 2,842 new cars were registered, by far the busiest day and representing 16 per cent of the month’s sales. Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen were the biggest beneficiaries of this sales rush.
January is a bellwether for the motor trade, but a new registration system that splits the year into two may have hit the usual buyer interest in getting a new number plate.
Last month saw the addition of the numeral 1 to the year on number plates of cars registered before July. This will change to 2 for the second half of the year. The motor trade lobbied hard to change the system to overcome superstitions motorists may have had about the number 13, and in the hope of creating a spike in sales in the summer.
However, many distributors and dealers reckon the market will still end the year down by up to 10 per cent this year. Last year 79,100 new cars were registered.
Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) president Alan Nolan said it still holds to its projections of 75,000 new car sales this year but said the January drop was disappointing.
“It reflects the feedback we are getting from dealers that the throughput of customers is lower than expected. We hear about improved consumer confidence figures nationally but we haven’t seen this show up in our sector.”
Volkswagen is the best-selling brand so far this year with 2,137 registrations last month, representing 12.4 per cent of the market. Toyota was second with 1,855 (10.7 per cent), followed by Ford with 1,839 (10.6 per cent). Hyundai’s growth continues apace, taking fourth place with 1,523 registrations, giving it a market share of 8.9 per cent.
Audi tops the premium end of the market with 941 registrations, ahead of BMW with 925 and with a sizeable lead over Mercedes, which had 339 sales, and Lexus, which had 41. The best-selling car remains the Ford Focus (825 registrations), slightly ahead of the new VW Golf (789 registrations).