Saturday 24 September 2016

Volkswagen growth slumps in Ireland after emissions scandal

Sean Duffy

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

A Volkswagen Passat is tested for its exhaust emissions

Irish car sales in July revealed mixed results for German car manufacturers.

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Last month's figures, released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), reveal an overall annual increase of 5.5pc for car sales across Ireland.

July is an important month for car sales in Ireland because it's the first month of the "162" sequence - traditionally a time of year when consumers seek to upgrade their vehicles.

The research compares sales in July of this year to the same month in 2015.

The results reveal a steady rise in demand for luxury brands such as Audi and Mercedes. Both German car makers recorded sales increases of 17pc and 36pc respectively.

The growth of these brands offers a snapshot of increasing Irish demand for luxury cars.

Land Rover sales reached 166 last month and there have been 1,169 sold here in the year to date.

The news was much worse for Volkswagen. The company has suffered a number of recent difficulties due to an emissions scandal.

Sales in VW cars were down 9pc compared to July of last year. It has been a miserable year for the German brand, with the scandal seeing sales slump by 8pc in the US.

The company has been engulfed in controversy since it emerged that cars had been fitted with software which provided artificially low emissions scores on tested vehicles.

Volkswagen was hit with a €13bn fine by US authorities and had to recall 5.8 million cars Stateside. The German giant also revealed that second-quarter profits for this year were down over €100m compared to the same period in 2015.

The company faced further bad news yesterday when the Italian government announced a fine of more than €5m for breach of competition legislation. In addition, the South Korean government announced it was suspending sales of the car in the country.

To compound matters, it was announced last week that the German state of Bavaria was suing the manufacturer for damages.

It is believed more regional governments in Germany could follow suit.

Fellow German carmaker Opel has run an aggressive advertising campaign using the popular Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp this summer, but the strategy has yet to bear fruit in Ireland, with the company's sales for last month down by 17pc compared to July 2015.

Hyundai is Ireland's most popular carmaker at present, with the Korean manufacturer seeing sales rise by 27pc compared to the same month a year earlier. Hyundai sold 3,443 vehicles in July.

French manufacturer Renault saw its yearly sales grow by 34pc here during the month.

The company sold 1,467 vehicles.

The fortunes of fellow manufacturer Citroen were at the opposite end of the spectrum, however, with the company recording a decline of 17pc last month compared to the same period in 2015. Ford is Ireland's second most popular brand, and the company recorded sales of 3,359 in the seventh month of the year. That represented a 25pc yearly rise.

Toyota sales spiked by 15pc from 2,604 to 2,983. The Japanese manufacturer remains Ireland's third most popular brand, marginally ahead of Nissan, whose sales in July actually declined compared to the same month in 2015.

Honda saw its sales figures up 25pc,while Lexus sales were up by a staggering 62pc.

Irish Independent

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