Saturday 3 December 2016

Used imports down as strong sterling hits cost and home supply improves

* But could it push up secondhand prices?

Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30

Nosedive: The number of used imports
Nosedive: The number of used imports

The number of used imports has nosedived in April with the strength of sterling and an improving choice of Irish secondhand stock regarded as key factors.

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Despite what appears to be a downward trend since the start of the year, we have still brought in more than 17,000 used-cars so far in 2015, according to the latest Motorcheck.ie figures.

That is 8pc down on the corresponding period for last year.

But it still represents a significant quantity of vehicle options for buyers.

However, the figures for the past four weeks, in particular, reflect a near-22pc plunge in secondhand imports over that period.

It is far too early to deduce, or forecast, that this heralds a major shift in buying patterns.

Admittedly some experts have said they anticipated fewer imports over the coming years as the home market stabilises and expands but it is early days.

For now, though, there is no doubt that the cost factor, which for years swayed thousands to go abroad for their car, is having the opposite effect as people get fewer pounds for their euro.

The influx of fewer cars is also prompting questions about how much of an impact such a tail-off will have on secondhand values generally if it continues over the coming months.

While there has been a scarcity of good-quality Irish used cars for some time now, the situation has eased to a degree as the number of fresher trade-ins against surging new-car sales increased.

However, if sterling remains as strong as it has been, it adds a significant dampening effect to imports and could tighten up the overall supply again.

That would mean a further hardening of values.That is good news if you are trading in but not so good if you are looking to buy.

Sales

New-car sales are running at nearly 29pc ahead of last year for the first four months or so, though they too have, as expected, fallen from the heights of the first quarter.

And while they are likely to decline further in numbers over the next couple of months the percentage increase in registrations is likely to hold.

The number of trade-ins involved in deals is also, therefore, likely to dip though tens of thousands of used car purchases take place outside the new-car trade-in arena.

Looking ahead, there is expected to be a surge in activity - for new and used - in the lead up to and arrival of the second registration period of the year from July 1.

Could we be seeing the demise of used-imports as major players on the Irish market?

Would you still buy abroad? Let us know: ecunningham@independent.ie

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