Buyers and sellers confident
New reg periods helped things in 2013, but can marques repeat the trick and boost sales again, asks Campbell Spray
The first year of the split number plate periods seems to have been a relative success in, at the very least, mitigating the effects of a disastrous year for car sales by keeping probably as many as 1,000 employed when they might otherwise have been put on the dole.
However, this year is far more positive with massive increases in showroom visits, inquiries and orders that should make the beginning of the year the best for a considerable time.
How that pans out for the start of the 142 period in July is more of a guesstimate, but the concept is here to stay and should get a few more takers.
Sales in July, August, September and October last year were all up, with the first month recording a massive 162.66 per cent increase in sales over 2012. In real figures this was 11,620 sales against 4,424 in July 2012.
The car industry is doing its best to take advantage of any uplift in consumer sentiment and easing of credit lines.
The popularity of Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) is driving much of the growth as people now believe they have a bit more certainty over the economy and can commit to a finance scheme for a new car.
The earlier Budget -- with no new tax hikes to put up car prices -- also helped people make their plans early. In fact, cars are a good buy now; they are better equipped and relatively cheaper than ever.
Warranties are longer, they are more economical to fuel and tax and are infinitely safer. Of course, it is totally illogical to go and buy a new car and lose thousands the minute you drive it off the forecourt.
But that's another matter entirely. It would help if the awful con of delivery charges is fast done away with.
Of the top 10 marques for 2013, Hyundai was the big winner, leapfrogging to fourth place in overall sales, with an 11.22 per cent increase. This was when the overall market fell by 6.52 per cent.
The Hyundai success is emphasised by the fall in sales of the other top seven marques -- Toyota (-23.33 per cent), Ford (-11.3 per cent) and Nissan (-12.46), who were second, third and fifth in the table. Even Volkswagen, who again top the table, lost 6.33 per cent of their 2012 sales. Toyota should come back strongly this year, with a full range of new models.
Nissan will be fairly happy that they did as well as they did because of the enduring appeal of the Qashqai, which, even though a brand new model has been launched this month, saw the outgoing model as the second strongest selling car last year with nearly 3,000 units sold.
The Volkswagen Golf, World and European car of the Year, was top seller with around 3,600 sales. The biggest loser last year was Renault, with nearly 37 per cent of their sales gone, down from 5,260 in 2012 to 3,318 last year.
However, there was some compensation for the company as its bargain brand, Dacia, notched up a 1.73 per cent share of the market with 1,286 sales in its first year.
Seat, the Spanish arm of the Volkswagen/Audi group, managed a 60 per cent increase in sales.
As I wrote a couple of weeks back, certain premium models are doing very well on their order books. Audi and BMW are both in the top 10 for last year and are reporting strong demand. Mercedes had an awful 2013 with sales down about 20 per cent, but with a massive amount of models recently launched, they are hoping for good things early this year. When I was talking to sales manager Ciaran Allen before Christmas he was quietly optimistic.