Weak sterling driving spike in car imports from the UK

Weak sterling driving spike in car imports from the UK

A “colossal” spike in the number of imported cars from the UK has been recorded because of Brexit, new official figures reveal.

A drop of 22% in new car sales in the past three years has occurred because of a massive increase in people importing cars from Britain, primarily because of the weakness in Sterling.

Newly released figures from the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners reveal that in 2014, 52,000 cars were imported from the UK but the number is set to peak at over 110,000 this year.

The figures released by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe show that in 2017 91,386 cars were imported and in 2018 the number was 97,511.

The details were released in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail’s Transport spokesman Marc MacSharry.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr MacSharry sounded alarm that Ireland is becoming a “dumping ground” for unwanted diesel cars from the UK and Europe.

“Clearly, people are voting with their feet and their wallets by going to the UK for cars. But we must ensure that Ireland doesn’t become a dumping ground for older cars which cannot be guaranteed in terms of safety,” he said.

“Also, the numbers of cars coming in now is colossal and there is an impact on the domestic car market, given the VRT issue,” he added.

Brian Cooke, director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), said there is a massive disincentive to buy new cars which in conjunction with the weak sterling is really hurting the market.

“There is a heavy taxation on new cars, high VRT so people are looking to the UK for imported cars.

“Overall, the impact is that 15,000 cars are being diverted from the new car market per year. That is the impact,” he said.

Separate new figures show that Irish motorists increased their spending on cars imported from the UK by 181% in July and August compared to the same two months in 2018.

The figures reveal Ireland’s car import boom is picking up speed as the October 31 deadline to Brexit looms ever nearer, Fexco International Payments said.

A study of 1,500 purchases made through Fexco International Payments also found the number of UK vehicles imported by Irish drivers in July and August was up by 175% year-on-year.

Fexco said the the figures are even more “breathtaking” when compared to those recorded in July and August of 2016, the months following the Brexit referendum in the UK.

According to the data, Irish consumers’ spend on cars imported from the UK has jumped by a huge 451% since the referendum, while the number of import transactions has climbed 291%.

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