The second wave of Covid-19 has seen car showrooms across Munster shut their doors again but the coronavirus is already causing a sea-change in the industry.
Sales are going through a difficult year with new vehicle registrations down more than 25% compared to 2019. The easing of restrictions in the summer allowed showrooms to reopen and pent up demand led to a surge of sales in September. However, with the Level 5 restrictions now in place, the industry is expecting total sales for 2020 to be significantly below previous years.
Brian Cooke, the Director-General of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said 2020 sees a reduction for the fourth consecutive year leaving new car sales at "recessionary levels".
However, a number of motor dealers and car showrooms have embraced online selling to continue trading through the restrictions and are reporting significant sales volumes with thousands of customers now willing to purchase vehicles and have them delivered to their home without ever stepping onto a lot.
Brendan Keary, the Director of the Kearys Motor Group in Cork said they had already been offering online purchasing system for vehicles prior to Covid-19 but that the pandemic and the associated restrictions led to an acceleration of the process.
As a result, Kearys have sold more than 1,000 cars online since the beginning of the first lockdown delivering them to customers across the country including to Donegal, Leitrim and Galway.
He said he was surprised by the way the public embraced online purchasing of such a significant investment like a new or used car.
"We have never had such a good year for used car sales. We expect the market for new cars will be down approximately 10% this year but for used cars we will be up 55% on previous years due to the success of online selling," he told the
"We sold 30 cars on the first day of the new Level 5 lockdown alone and have been delivering them all over the country. The system works better than we thought. We do Zoome or Whatsapp videos for customers showing them the car. Of the 1,000 we have sold online, only two were returned."
"I think this will be the future. We have heard the phrase '10 years of change in six weeks' and this is evidence of that. Regardless of what happens with Covid there will always be customers who want to come into the showroom but there is now a growing number who are happy to sit at home and have their car delivered to their door."