Can new car sales for 2016 hit the heights of the boom?

With new car sales up 30 per cent for the second year running, can the increases continue this year?

The industry had estimated total sales of approximately 115,000-120,000 units at the start of 2015 and the final tally has exceeded these predictions yet again. This is the second year running that sales have increased by a factor of 30 per cent as the recovery in the motor trade has met and exceeded expectations.

It has been a long road back from the highs of 2007 when 186,000 odd new cars were sold. But can these levels of increases continue and will the motor trade reach the heady heights of 2007 this year?

New car sales fell off a cliff in 2009 and despite increases, which were artificially supported by scrappage in 2010 and 2011, sales decreased again in 2012 and 2013; and it really is only in the last year that the motor trade has returned to healthy new car sales levels.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Rochford, managing director of Motorcheck.ie said “It is very unlikely that sales this year will reach the levels seen back in 2007, however another year of positive growth is being predicted by the sector. Most of the senior people whom I have spoken with in the industry have said that an increase of 15-20 per cent this year resulting in sales of 140-150k units would be a fabulous result and they reckon it is achievable.”

Used car market not keeping pace

The used market suffered however with lack of availability of good quality used stock continuing to be a problem. Sales of used cars decreased year on year and with the euro weak against sterling, used car imports also decreased by almost 12 per cent meaning the lack of used stock is more pronounced.

Commenting on the used market, Rochford said “With the economy in recovery, supply in the used car market cannot meet demand and as a result prices remain high and the lack of choice and value in this sector coupled with the amazing value being offered by the new car sector has meant many buyers are finding it cheaper to finance a new car rather than a one- or two-year-old new car”.

With 47,865 used imports registered in 2015 (an 11.8 per cent decrease ), the top five makes imported were: Ford, Volkswagen, Vauxhall (Opel here ), Toyota, and Audi. And the top five models imported were: the Ford Focus, VW Passat, VW Golf, Vauxhall Insignia, and Audi A4.

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