Car industry says changing reg letters could net €20m
COUNTY pride and forecourt value could both benefit in a proposal from the car industry to enable vehicle owners to change the locality registration letter on their number plate.
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi) is suggesting that around €20m a year could be raised for the Government if purchasers of second-hand vehicles could re-register their cars to reflect the area they live in. It could also enable people in certain areas to be able to sell their cars easier if the purchaser is not going to be "lumbered" with an unattractive number plate. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cars with registrations from rural areas like Tipperary North, Donegal, Wicklow and Kerry don't appeal to would-be buyers in cities like Dublin.
At a press conference last Thursday, Alan Nolan, Simi director general, called on the Government to allow buyers of used cars to re-register their vehicle in their home county.
Mr Nolan said many motorists drove cars with another county's registration plate but most would prefer to drive a car with their own county's stamp on it. He propose that car owners who wanted to do so should be able to get their registration changed to one from their county. A fee of up to €250 could be charged for this change, which the local authorities could then reinvest back into the local road network.
There are nearly 750,000 second-hand transactions every year so even if just 10 per cent were from people who wanted to change their plate SIMI estimates that €20m could be raised.
However, some motoring organisations are sceptical about sufficient demand for this new service from consumers. "Changing the registration plate might be something car dealers will welcome a little more readily than consumers. While we agree that there could be some 'county fundamentalism' in certain areas -- and for various reasons buyers do want a car with their own county registration -- it still might not have the desired effect of balancing out the used values of cars at trade-in time," said Shane O'Donoghue of motoring website CompleteCar.ie.
"Car dealers don't like having a registration plate from another county on their forecourt, as it can be of lesser value, so having the facility to change this would be of benefit to them in particular. Consumers might want this for cosmetic or parochial reasons, but with money a little tight these days, they may not be willing to pay a fee for the privilege," he said.
The re-registration idea is part of Simi's plan to have the whole registration system reconsidered so that the "excessive seasonality" of car sales is changed. Under the present system, which has been in place for 23 years, 54 per cent of new cars are sold in the first quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, Simi president Eddie Murphy, the managing director of Ford Ireland, confirmed that the industry would be calling on the Government to extend the scrappage scheme, which runs out at the end of the year. However, the Coalition is said to be lukewarm to the idea.
At the start of this year, Simi predicted that 10,000 cars would be sold under the scheme. Figures released last week show that more than 10,400 cars had been processed up until the end of July.
Mr Murphy said: "We also anticipated that around 70,000 cars would be sold for the whole of this year, with the help of scrappage. Today, we're already in excess of 75,000 and we predict that we'll sell closer to 85,000 for the year."