New car sales down 18% last month
HARD SHOULDER:NEW CAR sales in May fell by 18 per cent compared to the same month last year. So far this year, new car sales are down 8.7 per cent when compared to the same period last year. According to registration figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), new car sales so far this year were 60,315 compared to 66,072 last year. In May, 7,719 new cars were registered.
It comes as the latest retail sales figures issued by the CSO show an annual reduction of 2.7 per cent in the volume of retail sales in April and, according to Suzanne Sheridan of SIMI, the registration statistics for May indicate that there is no sign of this depressed sentiment abating.
“With consumer sentiment falling month on month and precautionary saving increasing, the outlook for the next six months is very worrying, despite the real value and reduction in new car prices in recent years,” she said.
SIMI predicts 75,000 new car sales this year. This compares to a market of nearly 90,000 last year and 151,000 in 2008.
“A ‘normal’ year for the motor industry is in the region of 130,000 new cars, so this 55,000 shortfall this year is not sustainable for the industry in the medium term, nor is there any good news here for the exchequer as this reduction impacts Government revenues by as much as €385 million each year,” she said.
Toyota remains the biggest-selling brand on the Irish market, with the Ford Focus the best-selling model.
Meanwhile, Germany’s new car market, Europe’s largest, fell less than expected in May.
According to official data from motor vehicle authority KBA, German new passenger car registrations declined by 4.8 per cent to 289,977 vehicles last month – the weakest period so far this year.
VW board gears up for China
THE IMPORTANCE of the Chinese market to Volkswagen is clear as the firm has created a management board position dedicated solely to the country – its single largest market – which will be filled by Jochem Heizmann, who has been heading up the group’s commercial vehicles businesses. VW was the first overseas carmaker to enter China three decades ago and, with its two local partners, is investing €14 billion up to 2016 to build factories around the country.
It has also been scooping up brands like Scania, MAN, Porsche and Ducati as part of an effort to overtake GM and Toyota by 2018.
Golf GTI to hit 260bhp
THE NEW Golf GTI range will arrive with the rest of the all-new Mark VII Golf later this year after a public debut at the Paris motor show in September.
The GTI will get more power this time around, with an expected 260bhp, as well as a trick new front suspension and gearbox that would, according to Volkswagen, make it faster on a twistier road even if it had no more power than the current car.
Its light weight will be a key part of the new GTI too, with an aluminium roof, floor and some exterior panels trimming its mass compared to the standard new Golf.
Renault probing premium brand
RENAULT IS preparing for another foray into the premium car game, despite its ill-fated attempts in the past, not least the dismal sales figures of the previous Vel Satis and Avantime luxury models.
The reported plan, still not signed off on, would see a new sub-brand, tentatively called Initiale Paris, which would give Renault a premium-style model range that could compete with rival Citroën’s successful DS brand. The luxury tag could actually be lived up to, as Renaults recently-signed co-operation deal with Mercedes means that the French firm could get access to current E-Class chassis and engine technology.
There are also still rumours of a revival of the classic Renault 5 as a DS3-rivalling premium hatchback model, which would also slot nicely into the new brand. Will it happen? We’ll find out for definite in the next few weeks.