One More Thing: Devil in the detail for car sales


Forget about the lure of the styling or the roar of the engine: Irish motorists still seem fixated on a car’s numberplate.

Much was made of the fact that on the first day of the new 132 numberplate on Monday, more cars were registered than during the entire month of June.

As the press release from motor trade lobby group, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), breathlessly announced: “The first day of the new ‘132’ registration plate, 1,927 new cars were sold, compared to just one on the same day last July.”

Impressive, although it should be noted that July 1st last year was a Sunday, when many dealerships would have been closed.

The sales boost this week will nonetheless offer some succour to dealers who have seen the new car market fall 20 per cent so far this year.

Dramatic fall
However, more sagacious motor traders are suggesting that the key indicator will be a comparison of the combined sales figures for June and July for both years.

There had been concern that the dramatic fall in June registrations – down 73 per cent to 1,672 – would make it hard for the new 132 to recoup the lost sales. Clearly only the most desperate motorist opted to buy a 131 in June, with the new plate – and therefore a better residual value – just weeks away, so some of the July sales will encompass postponed sales from May and June.

The combined June/July new car registration figure for last year was 10,772. That’s the target for this year. While 1,927 new cars on the first day is a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t make up for the drop in June sales from 6,350 last year to just 1,672 last month.

Summer sun may lure a few more motorists onto forecourts, but even the most optimistic traders expect another year of sales slump, down 14 per cent by most estimates.