Car sales figures for the month of July show 182 registrations are down 2.75 per cent (26,944 ) compared to July 2017 (27,707 ), according to statistics released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.
Light commercials are currently up 12.4 per cent (4,433 ) compared to July last year (3,944 ), while heavy goods vehicle registrations were also up 23.28 per cent (376 ) in comparison to July 2017 (305 ).
While Ireland’s economic indicators are positive, pointing towards an expanding economy as consumer spending continues to improve at a steady rate, the report highlights the depreciation in the value of sterling since the end of 2015 has made life more difficult for the Irish motor trade, with new car sales being displaced by used imports from the UK.
While new car sales are down slightly, used car imports have increased by 11.7 per cent, aided by the weakness in sterling. The motor industry continues to experience significant uncertainty with monthly declines in new car registrations figures, reflecting the substantial impact of Brexit.
Other noticeable trends within the market place show the average price of a new car in June 2018 was 1.9 per cent lower than a year earlier, while car buyers are paying 4.1 per cent more for higher specifications cars. The recent move away from diesel towards petrol has resulted in the average C02 emissions from new car sales seeing a slight increase. While average motor insurance costs in the year to June declined 11.5 per cent, motor insurance costs are down 20.7 per cent since July 2016. Fuel prices have seen an increase with petrol prices up 9.7 per cent, diesel prices up 12.2 per cent on June 2017.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018, Jim Power, economist and author of the SIMI report, says the economic fundamentals that underpin new car registrations look set to remain positive but continued strong growth in used imports will continue to undermine new car sales.
“For 2018, the used import market is projected to grow by around 12 per cent to reach 104,660,” he says. “New car registrations in 2018 are forecast at around 125,000, which would represent a decline of 4.8 per cent on the 2017 outturn.”
The top ten car sales brands after seven months are: 1. Volkswagen, 2. Toyota, 3. Hyundai, 4. Ford, 5. Nissan, 6. Skoda, 7. KIA, 8 Renault, 9 Peugeot, 10. Opel.
New SUV sales continue to rise, up nearly 35 per cent on the first seven months last year, and MPVs are up by more than seven per cent, both in a decline market. Interestingly, 14 new hearses were sold in the first seven months of this year, while only one was registered in the similar period last year.
Power-wise, new car diesel engine sales are down 20 per cent (to 61,997 ) with petrol up by a similar percentage (to 44,118 ). Petrol-electric hybrids sales are up nearly 62 per cent (at 6,447 ), and petrol/plug-in hybrids are also up 163 per cent to 566 sales. Electric cars are up 87 per cent with 915 sold in the first seven months of 2018.
Diesel dominates the light commercial/van market, with 99.26 per cent of overall sales or 20,931 sold in the first seven months of the year, reflecting a diesel sales increase by 6.52 per cent in a rising market.