Cantillon: Is the 132 numberplate system a cod?

Sales of new cars have declined 7 per cent in the year to September

 

All summer we heard about how the introduction of the new number plate was boosting car sales, with the 132 number plate said to be bringing a new lease of life to the car industry.

The CSO said the volume of retail sales was driven up by increased motor trades during the summer, while Alan Nolan, director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said sales of cars on the new 132 plate had “exceeded the industry’s expectations”.

However, is the new number plate system really making all that much of a difference, or is it all a cod?

Although it has boosted car sales during the summer, figures published by the CSO yesterday show the new system has made no difference with regard to overall vehicles sales in the year to the end of September.

In fact, new car sales have fallen 7 per cent in the year to date despite a strong surge in the number of sales in
September.

What’s more, after 2009 when there were 59,000 new car registrations, 2013 has been the worst year since 1993. In total, there have been 66,570 new private cars licensed in the year to the end of September 2013, down 7 per cent compared to the same period in 2012.

It would seem the new number plate system hasn’t made that much of a difference after all, with many consumers opting for used cars instead of new ones.

The number of used cars licensed in the year to September-end jumped 32.1 per cent to 37,437, when compared to the same period last year.

In this context, the motor industry is asking the Government to consider introducing a “swappage” incentive in this month’s Budget. It seems they will never be happy.

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