Surge in new car sales as buyers go for 161-reg plate
The January car-buying spree begins in earnest today as thousands of motorists switch to a new 161-reg plate.
It is expected to be a bumper month and year, with forecasts for 2016 pointing towards total sales of 150,000 new cars.
That would be an increase of 25,000 on 2015 - or an extra 500 new registrations each week.
Final figures for last year will be published later today and will show that almost 125,000 were registered - a significant 29.77pc increase on 2014.
Some garages opened on New Year's Day and have already had an exceptionally busy start, with buyers signing up to take delivery as soon as possible.
But thousands of others have had their cars booked months in advance and expect to be behind the wheels of their new vehicles this week.
More widespread availability of credit and keen competition on financial deals and monthly repayments are major factors behind the buoyant buying.
Yet despite the increase in buying over the past two years, experts reckon that sales need to go higher, to 160,000 plus, in order for the industry to be viable in the long term.
In the meantime, today's figures will show that, despite being involved in the emissions scandal, Volkswagen remains the brand of choice for many Irish people.
The provisional figures show that Volkswagen (with 15,379 registrations) was followed by Toyota (13,109) and Ford (12,050). Also in the top 10 big-sellers' list were Hyundai, Nissan, Skoda, Opel, Renault, KIA and Audi.
Alan Nolan, director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi) said the sale of extra cars was a sign of consumer confidence returning across the country.
"When you look at big-ticket purchases, you can do that as a once-off when you get a bonus, but when you make a decision to buy a car you have to feel confident about your earnings today and into the next few years, so that you will be comfortable with the levels of repayments," he said.
"It says a lot about consumer confidence. People are confident about their position today and feel that things are looking good into the future."
Prestige car sales are up by 25pc across the various car types and models. However, Mr Nolan said it was the sales of ordinary hatchbacks and consumer friendly cars that demonstrated economic growth.
"The overall market in car sales is up about 30pc," he said.
"During the recession, the people most impacted would have been ordinary consumers affected by reductions in wages and job losses.
"The bigger percentage increases are in that middle ground of smaller family cars and general consumers."