New car registrations down in first quarter

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI ) has issued the SIMI Quarterly Motor Industry Review Q1 2018.

Car registration figures for the first quarter of show that new car registrations are down 5.5 per cent (71,805 ) compared to Q1 2017 (75,982 ).

New light commercial vehicle registrations were up 5.3 per cent (12,529 ) when compared to last year (11,900 ), while new heavy commercial vehicles have declined 11.2 per cent (916 ) year to date. Imported used cars year to date are 9.5 per cent (26,116 ) ahead of 2017 (23,862 )

The Report shows that in the first quarter of 2018 new diesel registrations accounted for 56.3 per cent of the market, a decline from 66.7 per cent on quarter one last year, while petrol accounted for 37.5 per cent of the total, up from 29.6 per cent on Q1 of 2017. Average CO2 emissions for new cars sold were 1.4 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2018 when compared to a year earlier. The recent move away from diesel to petrol has resulted in average CO2 emissions now trending upwards again after a prolonged period of desirable decline.

The SIMI Report highlights a number of price decreases in the cost of motoring. The average price of a new car in Q1 2018 was 1.9 per cent lower than a year earlier. Interestingly, consumers are spending more on higher specification cars with the average OMSP (Open Market Sales Price ) up 4.1 per cent on Q1 last year. The cost of Motor Insurance in March, 2018, was 13.8 per cent lower than it was a year earlier. However, average motor insurance costs in March were 37 per cent higher than in March, 2013.

While the cost of fuel decreased slightly in Q1 of 2018, with petrol prices down 0.7 per cent and diesel prices down 0.5 per cent last year. For 2018, new car registrations are forecasted to reach around 120,000, which would represent a decline of 8.6 per cent on 2017, while used car imports by contrast are projected to grow by around 15 per cent to reach 107,470. Similar to last year, Brexit related uncertainty looks set to continue, largely due to the uncertain performance of sterling and the impact of used imports from the UK.

Jim Power, economist and author of the SIMI Report, said: “It is clear that Brexit uncertainty and used imports from the UK continue to exert pressure on the domestic new car market. Looking forward to the remainder of 2018, the other economic fundamentals that underpin new car registrations look set to remain positive.

“Used imports from the UK, though, are likely to remain a significant feature of the market and will undoubtedly displace new car sales once again. The surge in used imports from the UK effectively means that UK used car values are directly impacting on the values of domestic second-hand car stock, and this is making the cost of change to a new car more expensive which is also serving to undermine new car sales.”

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