Brexit hitting new car sales

New figures show a 3.2% fall in new car sales in January compared with the same month last year, with industry chiefs claiming Brexit and economic uncertainty was a factor.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office showed, in addition to the 3.2% decrease in new car sales, there was an 18% rise in the number of used, or imported, private cars licensed here last month. Most came from the UK but the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said many vehicles were also brought into the country by dealers.

More than half of the cars imported in January were between three and five years old, and almost a third were six to nine years old, while 13.6% of imported private cars licensed were less than three years old.

In total, 25,813 new private cars and 8,025 imported cars were licensed in January 2018. The figures also show more than half of new private cars licensed in January this year were diesel (55.8%), 36.6% were petrol and 7.6% were electric/hybrid, while 94.8% of new private cars licensed were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands.

Toyota was the most popular make of new private car, with 3,415 licensed in January, followed by Ford (2,802), Hyundai (2,736), Nissan (2,150) and Volkswagen (2,083). The five makes represented 51.1% of all new private cars licensed.

The most popular model of new private car licensed was the Hyundai Tucson, followed by the Nissan Qashqai and the Ford Focus.

The figure also showed a slight rise in the number of new tractors licensed in January but a fall in the number of used tractors, with a similar pattern for motorcycles. There was also a slight rise in the number of goods vehicles licensed, both new and used.

The SIMI/DoneDeal Report, published earlier this month, showed that the average price of a new car in 2017 was 2% lower than a year earlier, and motor insurance last December cost was 10.9% lower on average than it was a year earlier. However, the cost of fuel increased over the course of 2017.

A spokesperson for SIMI said these factors, as well as Brexit uncertainty and other economic issues, may have persuaded some who otherwise might have bought a new car last January to hold back from doing so.

“There is Brexit, rents were high — it is whatever is going on in your own situation,” the spokesperson said. “It is a big purchase decision.”

While there was a significant increase in the number of cars being brought into the country from overseas in January, primarily from the UK, only a minority were private sales. However, SIMI said a rise in the number of used cars coming into the country from elsewhere can have an effect on the residual value of Irish cars.

The SIMI report had broadly similar figures to those produced by the CSO yesterday and also forecast a 10% fall in new car sales this year, noting a 10.4% fall in new car registrations last year compared with the figure for 2016.

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