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New car sales limping along at half their usual number


Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

Sales of new cars are sliding back to recession levels, as latest figures reveal that sales slumped further last month.

Instead of new registrations running at the 140,000-to-150,000 mark, they are currently limping along at half that number.

And with the spike in new 202-reg buying behind us in July, no one is expecting a dramatic increase on the 74,069 year-to-date registrations by the end of 2020.

Traditionally, buying tapers off significantly between now and January.

A 29.8pc dip in registrations for the first seven months, coming after sizeable falls over the past number of years, highlights a crisis in the making for dealerships and employment.

Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) director general Brian Cooke estimates the implosion in buying will come to a cumulative 44pc after four consecutive yearly falls.

On the face of it, sales for last month - the beginning of the 202-reg period - exceeded expectations by dropping just 14pc. Some predicted a bigger slide, given the impact of Covid-19, but the volume does reflect sales of cars postponed from earlier in the year.

According to Mr Cooke, there are far-reaching consequences for the inexorable slide in car sales. They include fewer new 'greener' cars replacing older models with higher, environment-harmful emissions, while lower sales threaten regional employment as ­dealers' profitability diminishes.

His industry is calling for a reduction in Vehicle Registration Tax in the Budget so the market can get back to ­"normal sustainable levels".

The July registration period brought badly needed activity to dealerships, he said, but added: "Covid-19, on the back of Brexit and an already falling new car market since 2016, now sees new-car sales back to recession levels, down 30pc in the year to date."

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One of the main non-Covid-19 reasons industry executives are citing for the fall-off is confusion among buyers about what taxation plans the Government has for the different fuel sources (diesel, petrol, hybrid, electric) over the next few years.

Many people are holding off on changing or buying secondhand cars until they get greater clarity, it seems.

Meanwhile, the SIMI data shows how new-car registrations for July fell 14.1pc (to 21,213) compared with July 2019 (24,681). Secondhand imports dipped 6.8pc in July but have dived 49.6pc to 31,531 for the year so far.

Electric vehicle sales remained steady (1pc down to 2,660) for the first seven months, while those for last month were up 5.18pc.

The top five selling individual models in order are: the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Focus and Hyundai Kona.

Meanwhile, the top five selling brands this year are, in order: Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Skoda and Ford.

Diesel (43.63pc) accounted for most sales, with petrol on 37.52pc, petrol/hybrid at 12.31pc, electric 3.59pc and plug-in hybrids on 2.58pc.