Consumers buying fewer new cars as they switch to second-hand imports
We are buying far fewer new cars - but seem to be switching in ever-increasing numbers to second-hand imports instead.
The sharp contrast between new and used buying is shown by latest CSO figures. They show a 10.4pc fall in the number of new cars licensed for the first 10 months of the year (down to 124,850).
At the same time the number of used imports that were licensed so far has increased by 38.4pc compared with the corresponding period in 2016.
The official CSO figures also reflect findings of a recent report by economist Jim Power for the Simi which points to evidence of people substituting 'fresh' imports for new cars. The surge in imports had also devalued the price of a typical family car, the report said.
On the basis of a typical family car, the fall in value would be around €1,800. That's because the staggering volume of lower-priced imports is now setting the benchmark for what all cars are worth.
The Jim Power report forecasts import numbers will hit 97,000 this year - up markedly on the 72,000 brought in during 2016.
The CSO figures for last month alone reflect this. New-car licensing tailed off significantly to 3,255 - a plunge of 15pc compared with October 2016. Yet the number of used imports rose by 23.9pc.
Uncertainty around Brexit in general is also cited as a key reason for the fall-off in buyers of new cars.
Meantime, and despite the bad press around diesel for more than two years now, almost two-thirds of new licensed cars (64.9pc) fell into that category.
Nearly all new cars (95.7pc) came within the two lowest (A and B) bands for VRT and road tax assessment, the CSO said.
However, there is growing disquiet within the motor industry that our lower-emission buying of new cars is being offset by thousands of old, 'dirty' diesel imports being dumped here from the UK.
Despite its links to the emissions scandal two years ago, Volkswagen was the most popular car licensed in Ireland.