More than one in five used motors imported into Ireland last year are less than two years old, according to an analysis by a vehicle data company.
Industry players say the importation of more than 25,000 new or nearly new vehicles last year adds weight to the argument that Brexit is contributing to the rise in the number of motors being brought in from Britain, and a corresponding drop in new car sales here in Ireland.
Motorcheck.ie found that of the 127,000 used vehicles imported into Ireland in 2018 more than 25,000 units (21%) were two years old or less and more than 3,000 of these were less than one year old.
Mercedez Benz proved to be the most popular new or nearly-new import vehicle, with 460 recorded instances of 2018 models being imported last year, and a further 1,263 one-year-old models being brought over.
Ford (391), BMW (360), Audi (227), and Honda (188) made up the rest of the top five most imported 2018 models.
Michael Rochford, managing director of Motorcheck.ie said that “the drop in new car sales during 2018 can almost certainly be attributed to the influence of Brexit and the rise in the number of nearly new imports being brought in from the UK”.
However, the analysis has found that more than 45% of imports are registered before 2014, which are models that do not come under the latest Euro6 emissions regulations.
Last week James McCarthy, CEO of Nissan, welcomed indications from the Department of Finance that it is “examining options” surrounding the importation of old diesel motors, and acknowledged that the practice is "undesirable from a public health perspective and an Exchequer perspective”.
“The Government can not solve the carbon emissions problem when it is allowing 100,755 polluting cars to be put onto Irish roads each year. That’s 100 polluting cars for every zero emissions EV sold,” Mr McCarthy said.
“The solution to rising carbon emissions is staring the Government in the face. The facts are clear. What we need now is decisive action,” he said.
Nissan has claimed that banning the importation of pre-2014 registered models would prevent the “displacement” of more than 66,000 new car sales in 2019 and generate €400 million in new tax revenue for the Government.
“Banning used car imports pre-dating 2014 and continuing to incentivise motorists to switch to zero emissions driving is the only way to truly change consumer behaviour when it comes to reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector,” said Mr McCarthy.
Earlier this month, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry also cited Brexit and the associated weakness of Sterling as the cause in the drop in new car registrations in 2018, and last year saw used imports surpass the 100,000 mark for the first time.
It said the top five 2018 car models sold in Ireland were the Hyundai Tucson, the Nissan Qashqai, the Ford Focus, the Volkswagen Golf, and the Skoda Octavia.