Sunday 18 February 2018

Car sales are still 8pc behind last year

Why swappage scheme plans could rescue buyers, sellers

Incentives such as the 132-reg do generate interest
Incentives such as the 132-reg do generate interest

Eddie Cunningham Motoring Editor

Clear away all the bits of 'good news' about car sales and one thing is clear. They are still 8pc behind last year – and that was considered something of a disaster.

Clear away all the bits of bad news and another thing is clear.

Incentives such as the 132-reg do generate interest, sales and a sense of buoyancy.

So against the realistic backdrop of what could have been a catastrophic year being rescued by 132-reg change, what can be done to help buyer and seller in 2014?

It is clear something has to be done for both. Buyers are languishing with older cars, facing the prospect of higher repair bills and running costs.

Dealers are sitting in showrooms bereft of footfall for many months with gleaming unsold metal sitting, costing a fortune.

Sales for this year to date are lagging 8pc behind – 68,544 compared with 74,234. Imagine what those figures could have been if we didn't have the July surge and a reportedly high level of hire-drive sales and pre-registration whereby brands subsidise sales to the tune of potentially thousands per car.

The optimists are forecasting 72,000 new cars being bought next year. However, if you break that down between corporate sales, pre-registering, hire-drive etc there are not too many ordinary, private buyers. And they are the ones who need the new/newer car.

They are the ones who need some help.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry says it will table proposals for a 'swappage' scheme' to Finance Minister Michael Noonan in advance of the Budget which is just seven weeks away.

We revealed earlier this year the scheme would give a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) rebate on cars of a certain age – most likely five to seven years.

The proposals are anchored on the simple premise that if more new cars are sold, there will be more tax revenue for the Exchequer.

Strengthening the industry's arm, I would suggest, is the fact that the 132-reg change did have an impact, did generate a lift.

Rebate

Now the Government needs to see that there is need for more change. This is not for an industry alone – it is for ordinary, middle Ireland where affording a new car has gone well beyond the reach of most people.

You get nothing for nothing these days. Giving buyers a VRT rebate is not a giveaway. It is merely a recognition that through their payment of tax and levies and all the other onerous burdens imposed on them by austere Budget measures for years they have kept this country going. Making it a little bit more affordable for them to keep going safely is not asking too much.

Posh and price make their mark

Extraordinary to see BMW's 5-series was the best-selling model in August. And to see the Dacia Duster driving to No 4 shows how price is such a huge factor in these straitened times.

Volkswagen's Golf was in second place and Skoda's Octavia took third.

The Top 10 brands

Volkswagen 482 13pc

Skoda 348 9pc

BMW 348 9pc

Ford 321 9pc

Toyota 308 8pc

Hyundai 365 7pc

Audi 227 6pc

Opel 188 5pc

Kia 147 4pc

Dacia 145 4pc

Indo Motoring

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