PENT-UP demand for new and newer cars could spark a mid-summer spending spree as dealerships count down to full reopening within two weeks.
Car premises can open for business as usual (with Covid measures observed) on May 17, but you can carry out click-and-collect deals from Monday next as well as conduct business on an outdoor basis.
There is a level of optimism within the industry that as well as pent-up demand, an increase in personal savings will have customers returning to showrooms in big numbers.
The portents are good. Despite the current lockdown, 7,166 new cars were registered last month. That compares with a miserly 343 for April 2020 (first lockdown) but the figures trail the 8,904 registered in the corresponding month in 2019.
The difference this year compared with last April has been the ability of online selling platforms to allow people to do deals and the facility of a click-and-deliver service.
It has been, according to SIMI chief Brian Cooke, “a lifeline to the industry during this difficult time”.
Mr Cooke said: “The phased reopening of showrooms announced by Government last week has been welcomed by the industry, and retailers are cautiously optimistic about car sales, both new and used, in the weeks and months ahead.”
He emphasised that car retailing operates in large open spaces, and with low footfall and the ability to social distance well beyond the recommended two metres, showrooms are a safe environment for customers.
The latest SIMI figures also show that 55,207 new cars have been registered year-to-date, compared with 50,138 for the corresponding period in 2020 (+10.11pc) and 73,030 in 2019 (-24.41pc).
Used imports continue to sell well with 5,676 registered last month, though the figures represent a decrease on the 8,887 during April 2019. So far this year, used imports are up 36.4pc (24,095) on 2020 (17,666) and down 32.54pc on 2019 (35,719).
There was a big jump in the number of new electric cars bought last month: 596 compared with 50 in April 2020. So far this year 3,414 new electric cars have been registered – up substantially on the 1,700 for the corresponding period in 2020.
The SIMI report says sales of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hybrids continue to increase, with their combined market share now at 22.61pc. Diesel accounts for 36.86pc, petrol 32.06pc, hybrid 16.66pc, electric 6.18pc and plug-in electric hybrid 5.95pc.
Meanwhile, the top-five selling car brands in April were: 1.Toyota 2.Volkswagen 3. Hyundai 4. Skoda 5. Ford.
The top models were: 1.Hyundai Tucson 2.Toyota Corolla 3.Toyota RAV 4, 4.Ford Focus 5.Volkswagen Tiguan.