New car sales figures point to best year since 2008

Resurgence in Irish motor trade could see overall sales breach 100,000 mark by year’s end

Against many expectations, sales of new cars are holding up, with the crucial 50,000 mark already close to being passed.

Figures released today by Motorcheck.ie show that the Irish motor trade looks on course to have its best sales year since 2008. There is even the possibility that the overall sales figures by year’s end could breach the 100,000 mark. If so, that would make it the first six-figure market for six years.

Even conservative estimates are now putting end of year sales at the 95,000 mark, and much of the increase is being put down to the increasing number of easy-term Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance options that are now available.

At the end of March, the total new sales figure stood at 49,617 – a full 10,000 units ahead of the total for the same period last year.

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Volkswagen continues to dominate the market; it is the best selling brand overall and the Golf is the best selling single model. Toyota is in second place overall while Ford is in third. Two other VW brands, Skoda (6th) and Audi (9th) are also in the top ten. While conventional saloons and hatchbacks still dominate the sales charts, crossovers and SUVs are now taking more space at the top table – 29 per cent of the top ten best selling cars are now SUVs, with the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage leading the way.

Used car imports also continue to boom, as buyers seek to make up for the shortage of Irish car sales since 2009. 15,000 second hand cars were imported in the first quarter, something that Motorcheck’s MD Michael Rochford says should be triggering warnings for buyers.

“There is a very high demand for used cars at the moment and a shortage of indigenous supply of three to five year old cars, so Irish buyers continue to flock to the UK. Whilst buyers can obtain good value and quality from the UK, we would encourage buyers to always perform an online car check before parting with their hard earned cash.”

On the boom in new sales Mr Rochford said that “sales in the upcoming second quarter are bound to slow down a little. But this is to be expected now that we have a dual registration system. Many buyers will now begin to postpone their purchase until July when 142 registrations come into play. But this will assist sales in the second half of the year.”

Equally, if not more encouragingly is the continuing strong performance in the commercial vehicle and van sector. That market is up by 38 per cent in Q1, with the Ford Transit, VW Caddy and Citroen Berlingo being the most popular models.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring