New car sales up 6% in October despite Covid challenges

Registrations down 25% so far this year, driven by collapse in car rental market

New car sales rose 6.24 per cent in October compared to the same month last year. Figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), show 2,315 new cars were registered last month. Total registrations for the year so far stand at 86,870, a drop of 25.2 per cent on the same period last year.

The collapse in the car rental market – down 84 per cent due to the collapse in international travel – has played a major part in this drop. New hire-drive registrations so far this year amount to 2,914, down 15,438 on the same period last year. Traditionally representing 16 per cent of all new-car registrations, but that is now just 3.4 per cent for 2020.

The company car market is also down 28 per cent on last year, while leasing/contract hire sales have fallen 37 per cent.


In contrast, sales to individual private buyers are down just 9.6 per cent over the same period.


The figures show a continued growth in sales of hybrids and electric models. Regular hybrids accounted for nearly 11,000 sales, while plug-in hybrid versions totalled 2,447. Fully electric cars accounted for 3,867 registrations so far this year, representing 4.45 per cent of the total new-car market.

However, diesel remains the favourite new-car buy for Irish motorists, representing 54,164 registrations, giving it a 43.1 per cent market share.

Volkswagen is the best-selling brand on the market this year, with 10,522 registrations, ahead of Toyota with 9,961 and Hyundai with 8,018.

Only three brands have recorded sales growth so far this year: Tesla with 724 registrations, up 540 per cent on last year; Porsche with 110 registrations, up 67 per cent; and Ssangyong with 54 registrations, up 15 per cent.

The Toyota Corolla remains the best-selling model, ahead of the Hyundai Tucson and VW Tiguan. However, during October the model with the most registrations was the new VW ID.3 its new all-electric family hatchback car.

In the commercial vehicle market, new van registrations were 1,667, up 56.2 per cent in October compared to the same month last year, though the market for the year to date is down 15.3 per cent at 20,857. Similarly, heavy-goods vehicle registrations are up 15.7 per cent at 155 in October, but down 21.5 per cent at 1,951 for the year to date.

According to Brian Cooke, SIMI director general: "With car showrooms closed for the next number of weeks due to Government Covid-19 restrictions, retailers have been enhancing their online presence, particularly with the month of November being the key selling period for forward orders for the new registration plate in January.

“Manufacturers and retailers are already offering generous incentives for customers to buy a new car. With the ongoing impact of Covid and the impending Brexit deadline fast approaching it is vital that the Government continue to support business in this uncertain trading environment.”

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

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