MOTOR dealers across the country have said they are more hopeful about prospects for sales in 2012 after a better-than-expected first full weekend of business of the New Year.
Traders were reporting their New Year figures to be ahead of 2011, but warned that the severe weather last year did not allow for a realistic comparison.
The 2pc VAT increase announced in last month's Budget had provided an unexpected boost to sales of new cars ordered before the end of the year.
As a result of the hike, the price of a Ford Focus, the country's top-selling car, has jumped by €450.
Dealers are now holding their breath to see what impact the increase will have on business.
Last night, the director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Alan Nolan, said that, while the early figures were positive, nobody in the trade was getting carried away about them just yet. "It's early days and, yes, the initial figures are stronger than people expected, but we are not running away with ourselves," he said. "You have to be cautious given the state of the economy, but it is a positive start.
"Hopefully, it bodes well for the rest of the year."
The economic downturn already seems to be hitting trade at the top end of the market, however. BMW and Audi specialists, Joe Duffy Motors in Dublin, reported that, while the first week of the New Year had seen a good level of trade, pre-orders were down on last year.