Surge in second-hand car imports as new sales drop 6.4pc
THERE has been a huge surge in the number of second-hand cars being imported as new car purchases continued to drop during 2013.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office show a 6.4pc drop in new cars sold during 2013, whereas purchases of imported used cars soared by 29pc.
Drivers bought 71,348 new cars in 2013, which was almost 5,000 fewer than the previous year, despite the introduction of a new car number plate system, 131 and 132, designed to stop the fall-off in purchases in the second half of the year.
Motorists bought 49,762 imported used cars during 2013, up from 38,469 the previous year.
A recent survey by the Irish Independent showed that drivers can save up to €4,500 by buying used cars in Britain, particularly on high-end models, and the new CSO data shows luxury makes such as Audi and BMW were among the most popular.
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said that although car sales were poor last year, they would have been even worse had it not been for the new half-yearly number plates which are here to stay.
They pointed to figures showing that the tail-off in sales during the second half of the year was much less pronounced than in previous years.
This was particularly notable in July, when the new 132 number plate became available, encouraging nearly three times as many drivers to buy a car as in July 2012.
SIMI said that car dealers and manufacturers had seen new car orders for 2014 rise considerably.
"Our prediction for 2014 is for an improved market; between 80,000-85,000 new car sales," a spokeswoman said.
"There appears to be some pent-up demand from last year and we are coming into a year where there were no Budget increases in VRT, VAT, road tax or fuel taxes. Cars are also becoming more affordable," the spokeswoman said.
The rise in second-hand car imports was mainly down to a shortage of Irish ones, as car sales had been so low in the years 2009 and 2010 -- the typical age of sought-after used cars -- and dealers were bringing them in to replenish their stock.
This shortage of Irish used cars meant that drivers could benefit from very good trade-in value, she said.
The CSO figures show that only one in four new cars purchased last year was petrol, with most drivers opting for diesel models.
The bestselling new cars last year were Volkswagens, followed by Toyota, Ford and Hyundai.
Meanwhile, a leading car dealer has disputed the level of savings on cars imported from the UK, outlined in the Irish Independent last week.
Volkswagen dealer Frank Hogan, from Co Limerick, said prices for secondhand Volks- wagen Golfs sold in Ireland were generally much closer than the gap of almost €4,000 we cited.
Mr Hogan said he had a 2008 Volkswagen Golf for sale with an asking price of €10,000 compared with the one we quoted for €13,000 by a private seller.
While we found a Golf could be purchased in the UK for €9,100 including Revenue VRT, once the costs of travelling to Britain to purchase a car were added there would be little savings, Mr Hogan said.