New system will help balance buying trends – and keep dealers around the country open
We as an industry pushed hard for the second registration system. Together with SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry), we spent many hours in meetings pushing to have this measure brought in.
It is here now and there will, no doubt, be a spotlight on July 1 from all involved. If sales aren't remarkable in July there will be question marks over what the point of it all was.
Few, I believe, really thought that bringing in a second registration system as a standalone measure would improve car sales. For that we would still need more government incentives. It was less of an industry booster – more of a handicap remover. The situation as it was, where there was a showroom stampede in January, followed by pretty much nothing after April in any given year, was no good for anyone.
We saw in 2009, when car sales dropped to just under 58,000, that dealerships simply couldn't cope – and many closed down, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
So what in reality could this new registration system achieve? Previously if any car brand launched a new car after April, pretty much nobody bought it until the following January.
New car models come at various times throughout the year. So if you buy a new Golf GTI in July, as it is launched, you might change it in three years' time for another one, on a 162 plate. You shouldn't have to wait for a calendar to tell you when you can have your new car.
And what of this year? Well, there are lots of new products from every brand and there are good offers. It will be up to every individual brand to peddle their wares properly mid-year, but we probably won't see any major change in buyer behaviour for about two years.
But it should start to balance out, as it did in the UK.
How will it affect used car prices? In theory there is only six months' difference between the new plates, so there shouldn't be a major price difference, but again this will balance out over time.
What is certain is that anything that will get buyers into showrooms at another time of the year will be of help.
Paddy Comyn is head of PR and social media for Volkswagen Group Ireland