New car sales surge ahead of expectations
New car registrations for the first quarter of 2015 are 30pc up on last year - and are now running well ahead of even the most optimistic forecasts.
According to official figures from The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), registrations for the year-to-date reached 64,716. This is significantly up from 49,901 for the first quarter of 2014.
The figures also show registrations increased by 33pc (19,046) in March compared with 14,297 for the corresponding period last year.
Such has been the consistent level of registrations that some industry experts are saying we could end up buying more than 120,000 new cars by the end of the year. Several observers had predicted sales of about 110,000.
Sales last year totalled 96,338, which was 30pc ahead of the 74,367 registered in 2013.
According to SIMI chief Alan Nolan, the consistent increase in sales reflected growing consumer confidence in the economy - something that was "so important" for the industry.
He added: "The most recent CSO Consumer Price Index confirmed a reduction in the price of cars and in the cost of fuel, with petrol and diesel prices both down."
And he claims the wider availability of finance and finance options are playing major roles in people deciding to get a new car.
"With disposable income also beginning to increase, we can be confident that the improving volumes in vehicle should continue to grow over the coming months," he said.
Ford Ireland chief Ciarán McMahon told the Irish Independent: "If growth continues like this, we are looking at a strong 120,000 total of new car sales for the year."
Mr McMahon added: "When you consider the market was 74,367 as recent as 2013, it represents a big turnaround."
The bestselling models are the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Corolla, Skoda Octavia, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai ix35, Volkswagen Passat saloon, Toyota Yaris and Kia Sportage.
Light commercial vehicle sales are also surging ahead. They were up 54pc to 2,846 in March and are 59pc up on the corresponding quarter in 2014.
That is seen as reflecting a substantial improvement in business and commercial activity.