New car sales are up almost a third in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2015, as another strong year is predicted for the motor industry.
In its first quarterly report of the year, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said new car sales totalled 82,830 in the first three months, up 28% on last year.
Sales had generated a total of €752m for the exchequer, up over 31% on last year.
There are around 40,600 people employed in the motor industry across the country, SIMI emphasised.
The strongest growth in car sales was recorded in Roscommon which showed an increase of just over 45%, while Longford sold the fewest new cars between January and March.
The sale of light commercial vehicles rose by 33.6% to 13,460 in the first quarter while heavy commercial vehicle sales were up 62.8% to 1,063.
The SIMI analysis revealed while the cost of petrol and diesel fell by over 11% and 17% respectively in that period, insurance costs skyrocketed by 32.4%.
The price of a new car, meanwhile, dropped by almost 3%.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office earlier this month revealed car insurance premiums were up 3.9% in March alone — which means car insurance was almost 33% higher than a year ago.
SIMI said the key drivers of new car sales look set to remain in place for the foreseeable future, pointing to the current strong momentum of the Irish economy.
Economist and author of the joint SIMI/DoneDeal report, Jim Power, said new car sales could be expected to continue growing right through to the end of 2017.
“New car registrations should be capable of expanding by around 25%, giving total sales of 156,181 for 2016.
“Looking ahead to 2017, while it is impossible to forecast that far ahead with any degree of confidence, another good year should be in prospect for the auto industry.”
Director general of SIMI, Alan Nolan said the first quarter figures showed it had been a “strong start” to 2016 for an industry which is now contributing hundreds of millions to the exchequer.
“The increase growth in sales is partly due to the pent-up demand from older cars been replaced with new ones over recent years and we would expect to see the industry continuing to improve towards more normal levels of sales with a projected €1.3bn likely to be collected for the exchequer towards the end of 2016 for new car sales,” he said.
Figures from DoneDeal mirrored the growth rate seen in the motor industry, with their car section advertising volumes increasing by over 11% on the corresponding quarter last year, with a total advertised value of over €1.4bn in that section alone in the three-month period.
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