New car sales rise for first time in over a year

Sales up 3% on back of extra working days in April, but overall sales for year remain down

The best selling car in April was the recently introduced Volkswagen Polo, a unusual return to a love of small hatchbacks by Irish car buyers, following two years of SUV obsession.

The best selling car in April was the recently introduced Volkswagen Polo, a unusual return to a love of small hatchbacks by Irish car buyers, following two years of SUV obsession.

 

New car sales rose in Ireland, for the first time in more than a year, in April. According to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) sales were up by 3.3 per cent last month, compared to April 2017.

However, overall sales for the year are still down by 4.68 per cent on last year, which was already down by 10 per cent on 2016.

The upward tick for April is being ascribed more to there having been extra working days in April of 2018 than 2017. According to SIMI deputy director general, Brian Cooke: “The slight increases in all sectors for the month can be attributed somewhat to the extra working days in April 2018 compared to last year, as Easter fell in March.”

He said Brexit continues to impact on business, as evidenced by the continued strong levels of used imports from the UK. “Total new car registrations are projected to reach around 120,000 by the end of the year, a decline of 8.6 per cent on 2017,” he said.

Increase

Of the 26 counties, only Carlow, Wexford, and Louth saw an increase in their sales over April of 2017, while the two biggest national markets, Dublin and Cork, were down by 4 and 7 per cent, respectively.

Diesel sales currently account for some 56 per cent of all new car sales, down from 66 per cent in the same quarter last year, while petrol took 37 per cent of sales – up from 29 per cent this time last year.

Electric vehicle sales remain infinitesimally small – just 282 vehicles, and 0.39 per cent of the total market, although these first-quarter figures will only include a handful of sales of the new Nissan Leaf, which could potentially drive up electric sales a little.

Hybrid car sales are doing rather better, with a 64 per cent growth in that market, but the overall total of 3,893 sales is still dwarfed by a combined total of some 67,000 petrol and diesel car sales.

The best-selling model so far this year has been the Nissan Qashqai while Volkswagen currently holds the number one selling brand spot, followed by Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, and Nissan. April’s best-selling car was the new VW Polo.

Critically for the motor trade here, though, the number of used imports is continuing to swell, and is expected to hit a total of 107,470 for this year, a growth of some 15 per cent compared to 2017, which was itself a record year for imports.