THE motor industry is pleading with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to ease the burden on drivers as tougher emissions tests drive up new-car prices and Brexit uncertainty is helping to flood the market with used imports.
Society of Irish Motor Industry direct general Alan Nolan made the appeal as latest figures show new-car registrations fell 17.9pc (3,201) last month with registrations for the year so far 4.2pc (123,099) off the corresponding period in 2017.
Used imports slackened a little – down 1.9pc last month (8,494) but they are still 9.13pc (77,277) ahead of 2017 (70,813).
Mr Nolan said: “The negative impact of Brexit is continuing to drive new-car registrations ever lower while increasing the volume of used imports on foot of a low sterling exchange rate and the falling value of older diesel cars in the UK.”
He said motorists are also facing a “serious challenge” with the rollout of the new WLTP emissions testing regime being phased in for all new cars. Under this, he claims, new cars will face an additional tax burden compared to used imports as the stricter test will produce higher CO2 values.
He warned that unless the issue is dealt with over the next two Budgets it could mean a VRT increase for motorists buying new cars - but not for those purchasing a used import.
SIMI wants the Government to make a small interim adjustment to the VRT bands for 2019 to avert price increases. It says a more accurate adjustment can be made for 2020.
“We strongly believe that this is the only strategy that can protect state revenues and the environment as well as supporting the viability of businesses and employment in the Irish motor industry,” Mr Nolan claims.
He is also appealing for diesel to be left alone, saying there is no need to increase VRT, road tax or excise duties on the fuel.
“The move toward diesel since 2008 was encouraged by the state. Given the importance of diesel cars for those living in remoter areas, any such negative moves would impact unnecessarily harshly on rural Ireland.”
Meanwhile the SIMI statistics show the Nissan Qashqai is the best-selling new car so far this year. It is followed by the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia
New electric vehicle sales are up 102.41pc (1,176) while the top-selling car brands so far are: 1. Volkswagen 2. Toyota 3. Hyundai 4. Ford 5. Nissan