Petrol outsells diesel as new car sales plunge 8.4% in July

Older diesels dominate growing used vehicle import market

The total new car market for 2019 is down 7.57%, with 105,441 new car registrations to the end of July. In contrast used imports are up 4.2% this year at 62,505

New car sales fell 8.4 per cent in July, with the majority of buyers opting for petrol over diesel, a trend not seen since motor tax changed to an emissions-based regime in 2008.

Last month 24,685 new cars were registered, with Toyota the best selling brand and its Toyota Corolla the best selling model. Petrol models accounted for 43 per cent of the 192 registrations, compared to 42.5 per cent for diesel. Electric car sales represented nearly 3 per cent of the market, with 735 registrations last month.

The total new car market for 2019 is down 7.6 per cent, with 105,441 new car registrations to the end of July. In contrast, used imports are up 4.2 per cent this year at 62,505, with 9,384 used imports registered in the Republic last month.

Volkswagen is the best selling new car brand with 11,975 sales, followed by Toyota with 11,203, Hyundai with 10,240, Ford with 8,488 and Skoda with 8,387. The best-selling new car model this year is the Toyota Corolla with 4,037 registrations, ahead of Hyundai's Tucson with 3,559.


Diesel held its lead over petrol in terms of sales for the total year, but it has fallen below 50 per cent, to 46.3 per cent, with petrol sales accounting for 41.2 per cent. Hybrids make up 8.9 per cent, with 9,383 registrations, while the sales of fully-electric cars so far this year reached 2,689, representing 2.55 per cent of new car sales.


New data on the market breakdown show private customer sales account for 62,333 registrations, with 18,267 going to the hire-drive market, 13,695 registered by the motor trade itself and 10,376 to either leasing companies or company fleets.

With talk of a hard Brexit weakening sterling's value against the euro, used imports continue to overshadow the Irish car market. Volkswagen was the most popular brand for buyers shopping outside the Republic, accounting for 7,286 used imports, ahead of Ford with 6,746 and Audi with 5,833.

Amid concerns that the growth of older more polluting used imports will push up Ireland’s average emissions levels, diesel makes up 72 per cent of the used cars re-registered here. The average age of imports is three years.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

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