It’s a good time to buy a car — new or used.
The choice has never been better, there is a lot of positivity out there, and the finance is readily available. So far, it’s been another buoyant year for the industry. Figures released by the CSO earlier this week show new car sales topped 100,000 to the end of August — the first time since 2008 that this milestone has been reached in any year.
And with 152 sales still very strong, the figure at the end of the year is expected to exceed the 120,000 mark.
There has been strong demand for both used and new cars, said director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Alan Nolan.
“New car registrations are continuing to recover back toward more normal levels, with registrations for the year to the end of August up 30% (116,350) on 2014, which had been up by a similar level on the previous year.
“This has been a very positive year, as both consumer and business confidence continues to grow and the second registration period in July has delivered the second highest month of the year. The continuing good sales volumes should see the 152 period accounting to close on 35% of this year’s registrations compared to 16% for the second half of 2012. We have also seen used car sales continue to increase, with strong demand and with good quality used cars holding their values very well.”
The downturn meant there were fewer cars in circulation and less choice, but the bounce back in the market has lead to growing demand, he said.
“We had seen the sales of both new and used cars decline during the years of the recession, as many people were not in a position to trade-up and therefore held onto their vehicles for longer. This in turn had a knock-on effect, as levels of used car stocks in dealerships reduced with fewer trade-ins and with lower new car sales volumes over a number of years.
The resulting shortage in the supply of used cars was satisfied to some degree by importing cars from the UK.
“During 2014 and on into this year, the sterling exchange rate has added to the cost of sourcing used cars in the UK and as a result the volume of imported used cars has seen a fall of 13% so far this year.
“But there remains an even stronger demand for quality used cars and the increase in new car sales over more recent years is beginning to provide more locally sourced used cars of in this ‘nearly new’ age bracket. With this strong demand for used cars, trade-in values have been very good for consumers in a position to trade-in their car against a newer model.”
Overall sales in the used car market will reach 300,000 this year — up from 250,000 in 2014. “Used car sales in dealerships have shown strong growth, in the region of 20% last year and are running at similar levels in 2015. The projection for overall dealer used car sales for the full year this year is likely to be in the region of 300,000 compared to 250,000 last year and significantly higher than the 175,000 figure in 2013.
“For many car buyers, who may not have changed their car since before 2008, a used car may be their first choice, trying to take a first step-up from their current older car and this is driving strong sales growth in this market. With more normal levels of new car sales, providing increased numbers of newer used cars to the market into the future and with the better availability of good finance offers and a wider range of purchase options for both new and used cars consumers have a great choice out there at the moment. With the various brands competing to provide extremely attractive promotions and offers it really is a buyer’s market at this time of the year,” Mr Nolan said.
Driving all the demand, not just for new but also used cars, has been the the easy availability of credit.
“There is some excellent value out there at the moment, with different plates coming back into the market. The banks are now also back in market and there are some very attractive rates out there,” according to Gavin Seaman of Dan Seaman Motors.
“When times were tight few years ago, the banks reduced the term of the loans from five years to four years, so the monthly repayments jumped from say €500 a month to €700 a month and fellas weren’t just able to afford it.
“Now they’re back with five year deals, zero interest and low cost financing and that all helps. A few years ago, people were opting for something that was two or three years old, but now with finance available, they’re opting for the new buy.
“On the used car side, the demand is across the board. At this time of the year we’re seeing demand from students — where someone is going to college, or turning 17 and 18 and the parents are looking to buy them a car. They had completely gone out of the market before, but now they have the money to get back into that market again.”
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