New car sales slump by 15% as used imports hit top gear

New car sales slumped by 15% in October as used imports, mainly British, continue to surge.

Official figures came as the Opposition warned of a crisis looming in the Irish motor industry as British-imported cars continue to flood the market.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) statistics show 3,255 new cars were licensed in October — a drop of 15% compared with the same month last year.

By contrast, the number of used imports increased by almost 24% in the same period.

In the first 10 months of this year, 124,850 new private cars were licensed, a fall of 10.4% compared with 2016. The number of used imported cars licensed increased by 38.4% compared with the corresponding period last year.

During that period, 1.4% of imported cars licensed were less than one-year-old while 3,936 (5.1%) were 10 years or older.

Volkswagen (454) was the most popular make of new car licensed followed by Skoda (274), Ford (260), Toyota (247) and Renault (196). Together, the five makes represent 44% of all new private cars licensed in October.

There was a 23.2% decrease in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in October 2017 bringing the total to 1,466.

Almost two-thirds of new cars licensed between January and October were diesel.

The figures largely mirror those released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) in its third quarterly report issued last week.

The author of the SIMI report, economist Jim Power said the flooding of the market with used cars from Britain effectively means that prices paid for these cars were now setting prices for the domestic second-hand car stock and, as a result, it is hurting new car sales.

“In normal circumstances, the positive economic backdrop would be expected to deliver growth of up to 20% in the new car market in 2018.

“However, the distortionary impact of sterling weakness and the associated surge in used imports from the UK will, in all likelihood, more than offset the positive economics,” he said.

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