Wednesday 21 March 2018

Sales of new cars down 43pc on 2011

Eddie Cunningham Motoring Editor

NEW-CAR sales plunged last month, reflecting the massive effect the economic crisis is having on buyers and sellers.

New figures show they are around 43pc down on the corresponding month in 2011.

The latest figures (up to June 28) from the car index show sales have now fallen steadily for each of the past five months.

And another set of statistics -- due today from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) -- is expected to confirm how the lack of economic activity is hitting buyers and sellers.

The Motorcheck trends show sales are down 12.5pc for the year to date.

This shrivelling of sales has sparked a number of garage closures. Motor industry sources frankly admit they expect more over the coming weeks and months.

That is because we do most of our new-car buying in the first three or four months of the year. It leaves dealers effectively scratching around for relatively few sales and depending on servicing, etc for the rest of the year while still paying wages and upkeep expenses. chief Shane Teskey said: "A 43pc drop in registrations only highlights the crisis that the motor industry now finds itself in."

One aspect of current buying highlighted by the latest figures is how important company fleet purchases have become to the industry.

Of the 64,567 new cars, 39pc (25,308) have been registered to a company.

While no comparable figures are available, there is a feeling across the industry that the number of private buyers has tapered off significantly in recent times.

Secondhand imports are no longer highlighted as the contentious thorn in the side and perceived threat to jobs they once were. However, there is a steady level of buying. Used-car imports figures are running neck-and-neck with last year's corresponding levels of 20,468.

Yet there are 'success' stories amid the doom and gloom. Not least of these is Skoda. It was once the infamous butt of jokes, but its Superb model is now second only to BMW's 5-Series in the executive sector -- something unthinkable only a few years ago.

The 5-Series tops the segment on 545 but the Superb is a strong second (351) ahead of Audi's A6 (327) and the Mercedes E-Class (170).

The times are changing across Ireland's motor industry, and the next six months will undoubtedly bring further changes.

Irish Independent

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