THE Government is to bring in a new licence-plate system next year amid fears that a '13' registration number would hit car sales.
Cars registered between January and the end of June will have a '131' registration. Those from July 1 to the end of the year will have '132' on the plate.
The decision is based partly on fears that superstition about a '13' reg would affect sales and partly in response to the motor industry's plea to spread sales more evenly across the year.
Up to now, there has been a glut of sales every January to March/April and then a virtual trickle of purchases for the rest of the year. This puts huge financial pressure on dealerships as cash flow dries up.
By having a July registration, it is hoped that the sales bulge will be spread out over the year and possibly give a mid-summer lift to buying.
A bi-annual system is used in Britain.
Superstition over the so-called "unlucky 13" is one of the reasons that the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has been consulting with the Government.
However, it is not the only reason for the proposal, according to SIMI director general Alan Nolan.
Simi's request for the switchover is more pragmatic. A two-tiered licence plate system would give a more accurate depiction of when a new car was made, said Mr Nolan.
Even though 70pc of new cars are bought during the first four months of the year, some consumers believe that it doesn't accurately reflect the real age of a new car since cars bought in January are obviously manufactured the previous year while those bought later in the year are actually made in the same year, he said.
Although the current system, which lists the age and place of registration of the car, provides "quick visual recognition", it is believed that consumers -- and the motor industry -- will gain under the bi-annual plate system, said Mr Nolan.
Superstition over the number 13 could also have a serious impact on the sale of new cars by owners who fear it will bring about back luck or accidents, he added.
A government spokesman confirmed that the Department of Finance was actively considering the proposed change as part of a consultation process with the motor industry.
But the spokesman declined to comment because this is an issue that may arise in December's Budget.
The Revenue Commissioners also declined to comment.