Monday 19 February 2018

It's a buyers' market for cars as sterling plunge lowers cost

Thousands look North and across the Irish Sea for cheap cars

Luxury drive: A total of 581 Audis were imported here last month, with the A5 range up 180pc on last year
Luxury drive: A total of 581 Audis were imported here last month, with the A5 range up 180pc on last year
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Used car imports for top marques doubled in September compared to the same period last year, as buyers went in search of bargains on the back of a sterling price plunge.

It has led to a huge increase in the exchequer's tax take on UK imports compared to the same period last year.

Figures released by SIMI show 6,767 cars were imported from the UK last month, an 87pc increase compared to the same period last year.

This led to a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) take of €17.9m in September, more than double the €8.7m spent the previous September.

The total VRT take from all car registrations in September was €38.9m, a 19pc increase compared to September, 2015.

Brexit means travelling to Northern Ireland or across the Irish Sea can bring huge savings for car buyers.

As a result of the cheaper UK car prices there has been a huge influx of high-end models and prestigious marques on Irish roads in recent weeks.

Economist Jim Power said this is a trend that it likely to continue while Britain remains in the EU and sterling prices stay low.

"Second-hand imports from the UK will displace new car sales because of the value for consumers," he warned.

The value of sterling has crashed by 24pc in the past year, with the pound trading at €1.11 before the bank holiday weekend.

The number of Mercedes-Benz cars imported from the UK in September doubled compared to the previous year.

There was a 134pc increase in the number of used Mercs brought in from the UK, with C Class models up 158pc. A 2013 C Class costs as little as £9,000 (€9,988) in the UK. A comparable model here would set Irish consumers back €18,000.

Lexus imports are up 375pc compared to September, 2015, with huge increase in the popularity of Audi models seeing a doubling in the number of their used cars imported.

A total of 581 Audis were imported last month, with the A5 range up 180pc. Prices for a used 2013 model in Ireland start at €20,950, €9,530 more than comparable UK models.

Mini imports are up 197pc, Jaguar models increased by 150pc and Volvos went up by 135pc.

Popular marques such as Volkswagen and Ford almost doubled, but VW Golf imports are up by 134pc and Ford Fiestas increased by 123pc.

SIMI general Director Brian Cooke said sterling is having a huge impact on the Irish car market but noted consumers are more willing to spend.

"Consumer expenditure in 2016 has continued to be ahead of 2015, including the month of September, and accordingly you would expect to see an increase in used car activity, both domestic and used imports."

He added this could threaten the sale of new cars in 2017 and warned the Government may have to introduce measure to protect the industry and jobs.

"SIMI feels that it is important that strong leadership is shown by the Cabinet and that in the event there is not an appointment of a Brexit Minister, a Senior Cabinet Member is given a mandate by Government to lead Ireland's negotiations."

Sunday Independent

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