New car sales up 25% as demand for electric vehicles surges

Hybrids now account for over 25% of the new car market

New car sales were up 25 per cent in August compared to the same month last year, with 6,013 new registrations. This was ahead 18.2 per cent on August 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far this year, 96,309 new cars have been registered, according to figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), an increase of 22.1 per cent on the same eight months of last year, but 12.9 per cent down on 2019, when 110,527 new cars were registered up to the end of August.

The surge in all-electric car sales continues, with 7,057 registered in the first eight months, up from 2,954 last year. They now represent 7.3 per cent of the overall new car market. Hybrid sales are also up significantly, with 15,720 regular hybrids registered and 6,849 plug-in hybrids. In total, hybrids now account for over 25 per cent of the new car market. Diesel sales continue to fall, now making up 34 per cent of sales, ahead of petrol on 32.5 per cent.

Budget calls

"What is positive is that those businesses and consumers who have been buying new cars are choosing lower emitting vehicles across all fuel types," said Brian Cooke, SIMI director general.


“In this context, it is important that both the Government and the motor industry deliver affordable transport options to give consumers the real choice to make positive environmental decisions. In Budget 2022 this means a budget that encourages consumers and business to trade up to a lower emitting vehicle.”

Hire drives and used imports

Part of the new car sales recovery is driven by the return of the hire drive market. While it accounted for 16.6 per cent of sales in 2019, it slumped to just 3.6 per cent last year. Now it has risen to 8 per cent of the market so far this year.

Used car imports remain surprisingly strong despite new Brexit customs rules and changes to the tax regime in recent budgets.

By the end of August 46,185 used cars were imported into the State, up from 39,668 this time last year and down 36.0 per cent on 2019 when 72,214 arrived here.

Best-selling brands

The growth in hybrids is partly due to Toyota's decision to only offer hybrid versions in most of its most popular models. The Japanese brand remains the bestseller on the Irish market, with 12,086 registrations, accounting for 12.6 per cent of the new car market. VW is second with a 12.2 per cent share, followed by Hyundai on 10.5 per cent, Skoda on 8.69 per cent and Ford with 7.1 per cent.

At the premium end of the market, BMW has the narrowest of leads with 3,959 registrations, ahead of Audi with 3,951. Mercedes-Benz is in third with 2,881.

The best-selling model this year is Hyundai's Tucson, followed by a trio of Toyotas: the Corolla, Yaris and Rav4. And for all the financial difficulties brought on by Covid-19, one Rolls Royce Phantom – priced at over €600,000 – has been registered this year.

In the commercial sector, van sales are up, both on last year and on pre-Covid 2019. New Light Commercials Vehicles (LCV) registrations for the year to date stood at 24,783 by the end of August, up from 16,701 last year and 21,904 in 2019.

Sales of Heavy Goods Vehicles total 2,038 so far this year, compared with 1,642 in 2020 and 2,209 in 2019.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

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