Rental cars make up 1 in 6 new regs

VW, Nissan and Opel top the hire-car market

Hire power: Rental cars often come back to the market as low-mileage bargains. Photograph: iStockphoto.com

Hire power: Rental cars often come back to the market as low-mileage bargains. Photograph: iStockphoto.com

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 01:00

Sixteen per cent of new cars registered this year have gone to the hire-drive market, a sector dominated by Volkswagen, Nissan and Opel.

Of 64,031 cars registered up to the end of May, 10,247 were accounted for by the hire-drive market. For several brands the car-hire market represents more than a quarter of their registrations this year. Nissan has 1,324 new 141-registered cars in hire drive, for example, representing 28 per cent of its 2014 registrations so far. Other big brands for which hire drive is significant include Renault, Seat, Opel and Mitsubishi.

Even the biggest makes on the market are significant players in the hire market. Of the 7,786 new Volkswagens registered so far this year 1,437 went into hire drive, equating to 18.6 per cent of its new-car registrations. This compares to just 525 cars – or 7.5 per cent – at Toyota.

Rental cars often return to the market as low-mileage used buys. The latest figures suggest that several thousand relatively low mileage 141-registered cars will come on the market this autumn.

Hire-drive registrations are also often used by dealers and distributors to meet sales targets set by manufacturers.

For consumers it offers the chance to pick up a new car, albeit one already registered, at a discount. For the industry, however, it suggests recovery may not be as strong as the initial new-car sales figures suggest.

Overall, of the 64,031 cars registered to the end of May, only 58,890 were taxed for the first time over the same period, according to the Central Statistics Office. Both figures are up on last year, but more than 5,000 new cars registered this year remain untaxed. Hire drive: How many cars? Proportion of total registrations Jan-May 2014

Nissan: 28.1 per cent

Renault: 26.3 per cent

Seat: 25.8 per cent

Opel: 25.3 per cent

Skoda: 23.2 per cent