New car sales down 4.5% in first half of 2018

Fall in 181 registrations contrasts with 12.8% rise in used-car imports

New car registrations fell 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year, with 87,151 such vehicles registered with 181 plates. The drop in new sales comes against a backdrop of a 12.8 per cent increase in used car imports, totalling 51,879, over the same six-month period.

According to Alan Nolan, director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, the fall in new car sales "is somewhat at odds with the growth in economic activity in the country, but has to be seen in the context of the volume of used-car imports, which impact negatively on new car sales".

Volkswagen remains the most popular brand on the market, with 9,504 sales, ahead of Toyota, Hyundai and Ford. The Nissan Qashqai was the most popular car for 181 registrations at 3,045, ahead of the Hyundai Tucson, with 2,919, and the VW Golf, with 2,589.

At the premium end of the market, Audi is in the lead with 3,374 registrations, ahead of Mercedes-Benz on 3,292 and BMW on 2,854.

There has been a move away from diesel, down nearly 20 per cent on the same period last year, but it’s still the dominant fuel choice for new car buyers, with 48,346 registrations, representing 55.5 per cent of overall new sales. New petrol-electric hybrid sales totalled 4,709, along with a further 433 plug-in hybrids.

Fully electric

Sales of fully electric vehicles totalled 529 for the six months, making up 0.7 per cent of the overall market. While Nissan’s Leaf dominated this market segment, with 264 sales, there has been a notable spike in the sale of Teslas – many priced at more than €100,000 – with 79 new registrations up to the end of June, comprising 59 Model S saloons and 20 Model X crossovers.

Overall, new car sales in June were down 10.4 per cent, although from a very low base, with just 1,255 new cars registered in the month. June is one of the quietest months as buyers wait for the new 182 registration plates to come on to the market from July 1st.

“This week marks the start of the 182 sales period, and with plenty of competitive offers for consumers right across the various brands, there is something for everyone. As always our best advice to consumers is shop around to find the best deal from local dealers,” said Nolan.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times