New car registrations bounce back to exceed pre-pandemic levels

July sales bring ‘much needed boost’, says Society of the Irish Motor Industry

New car registrations for the month of July recovered from a dip last year and rose above pre-pandemic levels of 2019, new figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi) show.

There were 26,483 new car registrations in July compared to 21,171 in July 2020 and 24,681 in July 2019.

Some 90,342 new cars have been registered in the year to date compared to 74,056 for the same period in 2020, representing an increase of 22 per cent. However, overall new car registrations for the year to date remain 14.3 per cent down on the 105,439 at this point in 2019.

Simi said that, to present a more accurate picture of the new vehicle registrations, it was important to compare registration totals with the same period in 2019 when businesses were fully operational.


Commercial vehicles

There were 4,794 registrations of light commercial vehicles in July compared to 4,443 in the same month last year and 4,697 for the same month in 2019.

In the year to date, there have been 21,814 new light commercial vehicles registered. That represents a 45.3 per cent increase on last year’s 15,012, and is 9 per cent ahead of the 20,014 registered in 2019.

In terms of heavy goods vehicles, there were 325 registrations in July when compared to 257 in July 2020 and 251 July 2019.

In the year to date, registrations of heavy goods vehicles total 1,852 compared with 1,456 in 2020 (+27.2 per cent) and 2,054 in 2019 (-9.8 per cent).

Figures for used car imports were down sharply in July but remains up on 2020 over the year to date. There were 5,345 used cars imported in July, compared with 8,740 imports in July 2020, and 9,382 in July 2019. But, over the first seven months of 2021, used imports are up 30.4 per cent (41,097) on 2020 (31,527) and down 34.3 per cent on 2019 (62,508).

Electric vehicles

Registrations of new electric vehicles more than doubled in July, rising from 771 in 2020 to 1,902 this year. So far this year, 6,233 new electric cars have been registered in comparison to 2,660 on the same period 2020.

Electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hybrids continue to increase in prevalence, with their combined market share now more than 30.4 per cent.

Diesel now accounts for 34.4 per cent of the market, while petrol has 32.6 per cent, hybrid has 16.6 per cent, while electric and plug-in electric hybrid each have 6.9 per cent apiece.

Simi director general Brian Cooke said new car sales in July “have brought a much needed boost” to both the industry and to local economies.

“Pent-up demand and record savings have led to strong appetite for all vehicles, new and used, cars and commercials,” he said. “While new car sales continue to be well behind pre-Covid levels, hopefully this growth in activity in July is the first step in a return to more sustainable business levels.

“It is particularly encouraging to see an increase in the sale of new electric vehicles, a vital component in driving down emissions from transport. The level of zero and low emitting vehicles will continue to grow and it is vital that both the industry and the State continue to invest to deliver the widest possible choice to motorists and commuters.

“The move to zero emissions is a huge challenge across society. In this context, taxation policy and incentives can drive this change positively, but it must support motorists to make the right decisions based on their own individual needs, which will include choosing electric, hybrid and lower emitting traditional fuel type vehicles.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter