Ireland snapping up 'older cars rejected by UK'
CAR shoppers are increasingly opting for cheaper used UK imports rather than showroom vehicles in Ireland, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry warned yesterday, as new figures showed a July slump in sales here.
The latest figures are particularly striking because Ireland's showrooms typically do strong business in July, as customers seek vehicles with the brand-new '2' plates, signifying the second half of the year.
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But in its monthly 'Motor Industry Statistics' report, the society said that sales of new cars last month totalled 24,685, down 8.4pc from July 2018.
Imports of used UK cars simultaneously rose by 16pc to 9,384 - representing some 27.5pc of all cars newly registered last month on Irish roads. "The 192-registration period is generally a period of upturn for new vehicle sales, however July has replicated the first six months of the year and proved a disappointing month for new cars," said SIMI's director general, Brian Cooke.
"While Brexit is clearly a factor in this increase, Ireland's taxation system overburdens new cars, causing motorists either to hang on to their older, smokier cars, or look to the UK for an older import.
"Over the last three years, we have imported 150,000 cars that do not meet the latest EU emission standards, which in effect means Ireland has become the dumping ground for older cars the UK doesn't want," Mr Cooke said.
He called on the Government in Budget 2020 "to redress the balance by implementing taxation changes that encourage the sale of new cars, and to focus any taxation increases on older used imports".
Ireland's vehicle registration tax is among the highest in Europe, adding 14pc to 36pc to the market price of a new or imported used car, with larger rates imposed on cars with higher CO2 emissions.
Vat is also applied to imports if they were purchased overseas less than six months before their arrival in Ireland.
Brexit has weakened the pound and British market, making UK cars much cheaper to buy.
While representing a tiny fraction of the overall market, sales of new electric cars are surging, however, the report found.
This year, 2,689 have been sold - including 735 in July alone - nearly triple the number in the whole of 2018.
Sales of new hybrids also rose 46pc to 9,383.