Traditionally seen as a barometer of economic buoyancy and consumer confidence new car sales for January 2019 are down by over 12% on 2018.
The downward trend, for the second year in succession is reflected in new car sales in Laois for January which registered at 460, down from 544 in 2018, a drop of over 15%.
Neighbouring counties didn’t fare any better with car sales for January down across the board in Carlow from 499 to 410 (17%); Kildare 1401 from 1703 (17%); Kilkenny 720 down from 858 (16%) and Offaly worst of all, registering 418 new car sales compared with 547 from the same month last year a drop of over 23%.
Motor industry insiders are attributing the shaky start to the new year for their sector to the ongoing uncertainty around a potential hard Brexit, a weaker Sterling and the continuing trend in favour of second hand imports, which is eating into the Irish market share for local dealers.
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) issued the official 191 new vehicle registration figures for January along with their final SIMI Quarterly Motor Industry Review of 2018.
Car sales figures for the month of January show that 191 registrations are down 12.6% (32,374) when compared to January 2018 (37,023).
It’s a similar story for Light Commercials which are down 16.3% (5,650) compared to January last year (6,753), and HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are also down 11.4% (356) in comparison to January 2018 (402).
The SIMI Report highlights Ireland’s strong economic performance last year but despite the steady levels of growth, the Motor Industry faced a significant and uncertain year with monthly declines in new car registrations figures, reflecting the substantial impact of Brexit.
Used car imports in 2018 reached the highest level on record at 100,755 accounting for 44.5% of the total car market in 2018. Used car imports for January 2019 (9,006) have seen a very slight decrease 0.6% on January 2018 (9,061).
New car registrations 2018, totalled 125,422 down 4.4% on 2017, with 2019 now accentuating that trend as the uncertainty around Brexit looms large.
The only category to buck the trend are electric vehicle registrations which have increased significantly with 811 registrations in January 2019, which is more than for the whole of 2017 and over 60% of the total for the whole of last year.
While Electric vehicle numbers are still relatively low, they are showing strong growth having increased from less than 1% of the market last year to 2.6% market share in January this year which is an encouraging increase in the right direction.
Diesel continues to be the market leader in 2019 with a 49% share despite an 8% decline on the previous January 2018. Petrol has grown to 40% and Hybrids currently account for 7% of the new car market.
Brian Cooke, Director General Designate, SIMI commented: “New Vehicle Registrations in January are clearly disappointing but not surprising. With Brexit fast approaching adding to business uncertainty, the weakness of Sterling is continuing to drive down used car values which is increasing the cost to change.
“While we hope the EU and UK’s negotiations result in agreement that allows for free trade, the likelihood of no deal is increasing by the day. While the Industry is ramping up its preparations for a no deal BREXIT, in the context of the potential impact on a sector whose activity will be in the region of €5billion between now and the end of the year, it is crucial that the State fully clarifies the trading conditions in the event of no agreement being reached.
Car buffs will also be interested in knowing that the top seller car brands across the country at the start of 2019 are: 1 – Hyundai; 2 – Volkswagen; 3 – Ford; 4 – Toyota; 5 – Nissan with the five top selling car models for January: 1 – Hyundai Tucson; 2 – Nissan Qashqai; 3 – Ford Focus; 4 – Toyota Yaris; 5 – Skoda Octavia.