January car sales down by 18.5%
Last month 17,299 new cars were registered with the new '131' numberplate compared to 21,224 registered in January 2012. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
New car sales in January were down 18.5 per cent on the first month of last year, the latest registration figures have shown.
Last month 17,299 new cars were registered with the new '131' numberplate compared to 21,224 registered in January 2012, according to figures from Motorcheck.ie.
The disappointing state of the market would have been even 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 of the month and representing 16 per cent of the entire month's market. Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen were the biggest beneficiaries of this last day sales rush.
January is regarded as a bellwether for the motor trade, but a new registration system that splits the year into two may have impacted somewhat on the usual buyer interest in getting a new numberplate.
Last month saw the addition of the numeral 1 to the year on numberplates of cars registered before July, while 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 also in the hope of creating a second spike in sales in the summer months in the future.
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.
Volkswagen is the best-selling brand so far this year with 2,146 registrations last month, representing 12.4 per cent of the market. Toyota was second with 1,847 (10.7 per cent), followed by Ford with 1,840 (10.6 per cent). Korean brand Hyundai's growth continues apace, taking fourth place with 1,541 registrations, giving it a market share of 8.9 per cent.
The best-selling car remains the Ford Focus with 833 registrations, slightly ahead of the new VW Golf with 808.