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New car sales down again in March but Laois figures compare strongly with bordering counties


New car registrations for the month of March are down over 5% across the country when compared to this time last year, continuing a trend that has been apparent in the early months of 2019.

New car sales are down 10.7% nationally for the first three months of the year compared to 2018 – but the figures in Laois are holding steadier than neighbouring counties.

There have been 792 new cars sold in Laois in the first three months of 2019, compared to 886 for the same period in 2018, according to the monthly figures recently released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

This represents a drop of 10.61% but compares favourably against neighbouring counties – with Kilkenny down 14.29%, Carlow down 22.09%, Offaly down 22.33%, Kildare down 19.35% and Tipperary down 12.62%.

Unsurprisingly, Dublin saw the most new car registrations with 25,650 of the 64,098 sales in the country but that is down almost 2,500 or 8.61% from 2018.

Nationally, there is an increase of almost 10% of imported used cars.

New electric vehicle registrations continue to grow with a total of 1,437 EV cars registered so far this year. This has surpassed the total number of EVs registered for the whole of 2018 (1,233).

These electric figures in Laois reflect the national stats – with 13 electric cars sold in Laois this year compared to just two in the first three months of last year.

The neighbouring counties have seen a similar surge with 19 electric cars sold in Carlow for the first three months this year compared to one last year; 70 in Kildare compared to 17 in 2018; 20 in Kilkenny compared to 4; 12 in Offaly compared to one; and 30 in Tipperary compared to 6.

Commenting on the registrations Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General Designate hit out at the increase in VRT on new cars and that it will result in a sharp decrease in the state’s tax revenues from new cars.

“While new car sales are being dampened by Brexit uncertainty, the increase in VRT on new cars for 2019, arising from the fact that no allowance was made for the first step in the move to the new WLTP emissions testing regime, has also had a negative impact.  Ireland is the only country in the EU that has sought to charge consumers higher registration taxes due to the improved emissions testing regime.

“The decrease in new cars sales in Q1 has meant that the State’s tax revenues from new cars have fallen by more than €60 million so far this year, and this shortfall is only going to increase as the year progresses.”

Mr Cooke urged the Government to “take account of the impact of increasing taxes, not just on new car sales but also on employment in the Motor Industry across the country”.

He finished on a positive note in relation to the increased electric car registrations and said “we would expect to see this sector continue to grow”.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories