Worries for motor trade as new car sales fall 10% this year

Toyota is best-selling car brand, but more buyers are looking to used imports

Toyota is the best-selling car brand on the Irish market with registrations of 8,329, ahead of Volkswagen with 8,133, Ford with 8,075 and Hyundai on 8.073

Toyota is the best-selling car brand on the Irish market with registrations of 8,329, ahead of Volkswagen with 8,133, Ford with 8,075 and Hyundai on 8.073

 

New car sales are down 10 per cent on last year. In a further sign of trouble for the motor trade, sales in April fell 24 per cent on the same month last year.

According to registration figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), 83,831 new cars were registered up to the end of April. Just 7,865 were registered last month, compared to 10,381 in April 2016.

Used imports are proving an attractive alternative for many buyers, with 31,116 registered so far this year, a rise of 48.4 per cent on last year. Ford and Volkswagen are the favoured brands to import, with Audi the third most popular used import brand.

Even the hire car market is down 4 per cent on last year, with 11,959 of the new car registrations assigned to this segment compared to 12,467 last year.

There has also been a significant drop in commercial vehicle sales, a bellwether for economic activity. Van sales (light commercial vehicles) fell 25 per cent in April, and are down 13 per cent for the year to date compared to the same period last year. So far 13,653 light commercial vehicles have been registered this year.

There has been a similar decline in the sale of heavy good vehicles, with 1,266 registered in the first four months of the year, a drop of 8 per cent on last year.

Irish market

Toyota is the best-selling car brand on the Irish market with registrations of 8,329, ahead of Volkswagen with 8,133, Ford with 8,075 and Hyundai on 8.073.

The best-selling new model is the Hyundai Tucson, recording 3,381 registrations, ahead of the Nissan Qashqai with 3,035 and the Skoda Octavia with 2,596.

Audi tops the premium segment of the market with 3,421 registrations, ahead of Mercedes-Benz on 3,308. This means BMW has been relegated to third place with 3,193 new car sales.

Of the top 10 best-selling car brands on the market, only Renault and Kia have recorded sales growth on last year.

Amid ongoing international focus on emissions from diesel engines, petrol sales continue to make a comeback, representing just under 30 per cent of all new car sales, up from 27 per cent last year.

Electric cars

Electric cars continue to represent a small fraction of new car sales – 340 so far this year – but hybrids are proving increasingly popular, with sales up 80 per cent on last year at 2,646 in the first four months of 2017.

Alan Nolan, SIMI director general, said: “Vehicle registrations for April show a decline in all sectors and across nearly all counties. While the economy continues to strengthen, consumers appears to have remained somewhat more cautious to date.

“That said, the industry is continuing to entice consumers with very strong offers to the degree that even with lower sterling values as a result of Brexit virtually no new cars have been imported because of the value available here.”

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