Pent-up demand leads to a surge in new car registrations

September figures rise by 66% but total registrations for the year are still down
Pent-up demand leads to a surge in new car registrations

Year-to-date registrations are down 25.8%. Picture: File 

New car registrations in September increased more than 66%, when compared to September 2019, latest figures show.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said 5,685 new vehicles were registered in the month, compared to 3,418 last year.

It was the first month this year to see an increase, which the industry is attributing to catch-up from the previous eight months of declining sales. 

Despite the September surge, total registrations so far this year are down 25.8% (84,535) on the same period last year (113,945).

Used car imports fall

Used car imports for September (9,522) have seen a decrease of 6.8% on September 2019 (10,221), while year-to-date imports are down 40.3% (49,190) on 2019 (82,435).

Brian Cooke, SIMI director general, said the year-to-date figures show a reduction for the fourth consecutive year, leaving new car sales at "recessionary levels".

He reiterated the SIMI's call for a reduction in vehicle registration tax (VRT) in the upcoming budget.

"A reduction in VRT would protect the 40,000 people employed in the industry, sustain business, stimulate new car sales, while helping to decrease emissions from transport and protect Exchequer revenues," Mr Cooke said.

January 2021 will also see changes to the motor tax and vehicle registration tax systems, through a new vehicle emission-testing regime, called WLTP.

Mr Cooke said the changes are the biggest made to VRT and road tax since 2008. "The 2008 change coincided with the recession, causing a collapse in the new and used-car market, with close to 15,000 jobs lost," he said.

"With the dual threat arising from Covid and Brexit, we simply cannot have the same destabilisation of the car market again," he said. "A more burdensome VRT regime will undermine both the new and used car markets, making new cars more expensive, impacting on used car values, and slowing our fleet renewal. This will inevitably lead to a fall in employment and undermine viable family businesses."

Protect jobs

"What we need to see in the budget is a taxation reduction that will support the new car market and which will be environmentally positive," he said. "This will protect jobs, businesses, renew our fleet, and reduce emissions.”

Registration figures for commercial vehicles in September show similar results. Light commercial vehicle sales were also up in September, increasing 67.4%, compared to September last year. Heavy-goods-vehicle (HGV) registrations are up 12.5%, in comparison to September 2019.

The figures show that Volkswagen holds the largest share of Ireland's car market, followed by Toyota, Hyundai, Skoda, and Ford. The top models in 2020 are Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Kona.

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