New car market down 4.6% as used imports hit record high

VW Golf most popular new car for 2018 followed by Ford Focus and Hyundai Tucson

The number of new private cars on the Republic's roads last year fell by 4.6 per cent to 121,157, according to the figures from the Central Statistics Office. However, there was a 7.5 per cent increase in the number of used imports taxed for the first time, totalling 99,456 for the year. This is the highest number of imports in any one year on record.

There was better news for the motor trade in terms of new goods vehicles, which were up 5.6 per cent on 2017, at 25,459.

Volkswagen was the most popular brand last year, with 13,496 new cars taxed for the first time, followed by Toyota with 11,484, Hyundai with 10,950, Ford with 10,746 and Nissan with 9,277. These top five brands made up 46.2 per cent of the new car market, according to the CSO.

The VW Golf was the most popular new car with 3,944 licensed for the first time in 2018, followed by the Ford Focus with 3,815, Hyundai’s Tucson with 3,786 and the Nissan Qashqai with 3,746.


At the premium end of the market, the most popular car was the BMW 5 Series with 1,532, ahead of the Mercedes Benz E-Class with 1,353.


While the majority of the new cars were diesel (54.3 per cent), this was down from 64.9 per cent in 2017. New hybrids and electric cars totalled 8,567, making up 7.1 per cent of the market.

The CSO figures are based on cars taxed for the first time, as opposed to those issued by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), which tracks new registrations. There is often a lag between the two as a new car cannot go on a public road without a registration plate but there may be a delay in owners taxing their new purchases.

Boost sales

The SIMI figures showed 125,577 new cars were registered last year, down 4.4 per cent on 2017. That’s a difference of 1,400 vehicles, which may be accounted for by pre-registrations, where cars are registered by distributors or dealers to boost sales figures and then are sold on at a discount as used cars this year.

Unofficial figures for the first 10 days of trading show that 13,627 new cars were registered up to Thursday, down 13.45 per cent on the fires 10 days of 2018.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

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