New car sales down 22 per cent in November, but it’s not all bad

Sales steadier than predicted, while second-hand imports from UK have risen. Plus: Linders swaps Toyota for Renault


New car sales tumbled by almost a quarter in November compared to the same month last year. There was slightly better news in the fact that, at 6 per cent down year-on-year, the new car market has held sales steadier through the second half of the year than many had predicted.

There was more underlying good news in the fact that commercial vehicle sales were up by one per cent, while imports of second-hand cars from the UK have risen by a dramatic 28 per cent so far this year. Many of those imports are being brought in by Irish car dealers who simply don’t have good used stock for the years 2009 to 2012, such has been the paucity of new car sales since the recession struck. The used market itself is relatively bouyant, however. According to Motorcheck, more than 750,000 used car transactions have taken place this year so far.

With the total number of new cars registered now hovering just under the 74,000 unit mark, the winners and losers for the year can now be calculated with reasonable accuracy, unless there is an unexpected rush to dealerships in the run-up to Christmas. Volkswagen has remained on top of the Irish market for a second year in succession, while second and third places are still being closely fought over by traditional rivals Ford and Toyota. It is Hyundai which has probably had the best year of all, though, continuing its recent growth to take fourth place in the sales charts. That’s a position which is likely to improve again next year with the arrival of the critically-acclaimed new i10 city car.

The best-selling individual models chart was topped, not very surprisingly, by the Volkswagen Golf, with the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta making up the rest of the four.

While fully 93 per cent of all passenger vehicles registered fell into Bands A and B for motor tax, the interesting trend is
that sales of petrol cars are rallying.
Diesel sales fell slightly overall while petrol sales climbed by 5.5 per cent, indicative of the great strides made by
car makers to reduce the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of gasoline-burning engines.

End of the 75-year affair as car dealer Linders swaps Toyota for Renault on the forecourt

Car dealers change and accumulate brands all the time, but while Linders, formerly of Smithfield and latterly of Chapelizod, was forever associated with Toyota, the relationship has come to an end.

Linders has been selling and repairing cars for 75 years now, originally at a premises in Smithfield in Dublin city centre and, since 2002, from a new showroom in the suburban village of Chapelizod, at the western end of the Phoenix Park. Aside from a brief dalliance with the famed Lotus sports car brand, Linders has most famously been a Toyota dealer. In fact, it was the first Toyota dealer ever in Ireland, when it started selling the then-unheard-of Japanese cars back in 1973. Now, though, Linders has switched to selling Renault, both from the Chapelizod site and from a recently opened premises further up around the M50 in Finglas.

According to Paul Linders, dealer principal: “With the sad demise of the Bill Cullen group of dealers, it simply represented a great opportunity for us. We had been operating at break-even, but thanks to the Renault deal, we were able to open a new premises in Finglas, create 22 jobs initially and more again since, and it has honestly been an immediate success.

“I think the Renault product has become very good lately but obviously it was also a big draw to get Dacia on board. I’d seen Dusters in France on holidays for some time, and thought they looked interesting, and once I saw the price points they were coming in here at, it was something of a no-brainer. Interestingly, Dacia seems to be a brand that sells all year round. We are still delivering cars to customers in December, and the more models are launched, the more the sales of all models seem to rise.

“We have the whole north side of Dublin city to ourselves now and that represents around 20 per cent of Renault’s total national sales. The product is good and I think Renault is on an upward trajectory in Europe, and issues such as residual values are starting to be fixed now. We have been in business for 75 years now, and I wouldn’t subject our legacy, if you want to put it like that, to something I couldn’t stand over.”