By the end of 2016, new car sales had jumped by 17.4% compared with 2015 figures. There was a total of 146,385 new passenger vehicles sold in 2016.
In fact, it was estimated that new car sales for 2016 would fall between 140,000 and 150,000.
Furthermore, the 17.4% increase follows two years of consecutive growth, of approximately 30% in 2015 and in 2014.
Therefore, with the three years combined, sales figures for new cars are back at 2008 levels.
However, a levelling-off is expected for 2017’s new car sales figures. This prediction is based on the continuing increase in used car imports, which increased more than 50% in 2016 compared with 2015.
These figures were released yesterday by car history analysts Motorcheck.ie.
“It’s been another very productive year for the Irish motor trade with comparable proportional increases in both the new car and light commercial vehicle sectors,” said Michael Rochford, managing director of Motorcheck.ie.
“But with the advent of Brexit and the weakening of sterling, used car imports grew significantly in the second half of 2016 with each of the last five months of 2016 posting increases in excess of 75% on the previous year and finishing the year with just over a 50% increase in imports or 72,500 imports in total.”
The increase in imports of used cars means that 24,249 more used cars were brought into Ireland in 2016 compared with the previous year.
Mr Rochford said there is evidence to suggest that people who had been waiting to purchase a new car this year, instead chose to take advantage of the drop in sterling and imported a “nearly-new vehicle at the end of 2016”.
The rate of increase in the import of used cars last year is the highest it has been in 10 years.
In terms of the most popular used cars being imported, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Audi, and Vauxhall are the top five most popular makes being brought in. Of those brands, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus are among the most popular models being imported as used cars in 2016. In terms of new car sales for 2016, the top five selling makes are Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford and Nissan.
Toyota emerged as the top-selling manufacturer, followed by Volkswagen and Hyundai.
However, the Hyundai Tuscon was Ireland’s top-selling vehicle overall in 2016.
The other top-selling models of new cars in 2016 were the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus, the Skoda Octavia, and the Nissan Qashqai.
Industry experts are warning consumers, who are following the import trend, to be extra vigilant.
Consumers are urged to perform a check to make sure the car has not been clocked, written off, or is still under finance.