Do our county-by-county car sales show 'Recovery' is countrywide?
Statistics reveal increases all over - but are other factors at play?
Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30
New-car registrations on a county-by-county basis appear to show the so-called 'Recovery' is reaching all parts of the country - not just urban and Greater Dublin areas.
With purchases well up in every county - and significantly in many - the electorally contentious 'R word' would appear to be alive and well in rural Ireland - based purely on these recent figures.
Obtained courtesy of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), the statistics show registration trends for the first two months of the year.
As such, they span the canvassing period during which the outgoing Government was asking the electorate to 'keep the Recovery going'.
That sparked anger among voters from rural areas who claimed evidence of recovery was hard to find in their localities.
So do these car-sales figures prove them wrong?
Registrations are undoubtedly an indicator of some sort of upswing but are they true reflections of a more widespread economic improvement? Or are other factors at play?
Reasons for viewing them as strong indicators of a serious upturn include:
* People in all counties are buying new because they feel more confident about the future of their locality and their ability to meet commitments. That happens in a Recovery.
* Far more people have the money or, more likely, can get cheap finance, particularly through Personal Contract Plans (PCPs), to buy a new car rather than change up to a newer secondhand motor.
* Scarcity of good secondhand cars is pushing more people into new models - where the choice of finance is broader.
* Increased sales mean more jobs in the motor business - and they are spread more evenly across the country.
Reasons to be cautious about linking sales to outright Recovery across-the-board include:
* Thousands and thousands of families and firms have had no choice after years of 'making do' but to get a new vehicle before their old ones lost all value and repair bills escalated.
* New cars are much cheaper to run, with road tax significantly down on older vehicles many of whom were assessed on engine size and not emissions.
* The increase in registrations is coming on foot of years of low sales and is only reaching levels deemed broadly viable for the industry this year. The average age of cars on our roads (more than eight years old now - it was 5.17 years in the boom) is still high and will remain so for some time.
* Lots of people still can't see themselves being able to afford a newer vehicle, never mind a new one, for a long time yet.
Nevertheless the accompanying figures for your county - and the country overall - give a good snapshot of how more people are buying, or hiring (PCPs), new models.
They appear to show that even if the Recovery has yet to really gather much pace in parts of the country, there is a momentum of sorts and it is coming from a confidence, or at least a hope, that many may not have had a year or 18 months ago.