New car sales down 14% in July

Tesla and Porsche the only brands to record sales growth this year

Dealers say there has been a noticeable pick up in used car sales  since showrooms reopened on May 18th. Photograph: iStock

Dealers say there has been a noticeable pick up in used car sales since showrooms reopened on May 18th. Photograph: iStock


New car sales fell 14.05 per cent in July, the first month of the new 202 registrations. It means sales are down just under 30 per cent for the year to date, according to figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

Total new car sales in July came to 21,213, bringing registrations for the year to date to 74,069, down from 105,439 this time last year.

July is the second most important month for new car sales after January.

With sales down over 96 per cent in April and 72.5 per cent in May due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, it had been feared that economic uncertainty would drive motorists away from major financial outlays like cars. In that context, there is a sense of relief within the motor trade at the July sales figures.

Dealers say there has been a noticeable pick-up in used car sales as well since showrooms reopened on May 18th.

A July sales surge by Volkswagen saw it overtake rival Toyota to take the top spot with 8,879 registrations so far this year. Toyota is in second place just three vehicles behind, while Hyundai is in third with 7,105, Skoda is fourth with 6,310 and Ford in fifth place with 5,574.

The best-selling model remains Toyota’s Corolla with 3,385 registrations, ahead of the Hyundai Tucson on 2,696 and the VW Tiguan on 2,552.

Only two brands have recorded sales growth this year: Tesla and Porsche. Elon Musk’s all-electric car brand has seen sales rise from 60 this time last year to 477 for the year to date. Porsche, which opened a new sales outlet in the Republic, saw sales rise from 54 to 89 in the same period.

For the new 202 registrations, Ford is the only top-10 mainstream brand to record sales growth in July, up 14.5 per cent, but premium brands BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz also recorded sales growth compared to the same month last year.

Rental market

One major issue for the Irish motor trade is the collapse in the car rental market. Registrations of new hire-drive cars represented 18 per cent of new car sales figures: so far this year they account for less than 4 per cent. Last July 3,854 new cars were registered as hire drives. Last month that fell to just 64.

The growth in hybrid and all-electric car sales continues, with 771 new electric cars registered last month, up over 5 per cent on the same month last year, while plug-in hybrids sales hit 749 cars, compared to 255 in July last year.

All-electric cars now account for 3.6 per cent of all new car sales, regular hybrids 12.3 per cent, and plug-in hybrids 2.6 per cent.

Diesel is still the best selling power source for new cars, accounting for 44 per cent of new sales so far this year, while petrol accounts for 37.5 per cent.