New car sales in for the first nine months of 2017 declined by more than 10 per cent compared to last year, according to figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.
New car sales totalled 128,578, a decline of 10.2 per cent. However used imports remain a significant feature of the market so far in 2017, with imports 37.7 per cent (70,821 ) ahead of the first nine months of 2016.
Despite the Irish economy performing strongly this year and the expectation of this positivity continuing into 2018, the motor industry is not responding.
New cars sales every month this year have been lower than their equivalent month in 2016. During the first nine months of 2017, new car sales declined in every county, with Mayo experiencing the largest decline at 19.28 per cent, while Dublin had the smallest decline of 5.4 per cent. Dublin accounted for 41.63 per cent of the total new car market, the report showed.
Brexit-related uncertainty and the weakness of sterling are having negative affects on the industry, with the increases in used imports impacting on the residual values of Irish new cars, which increases the cost to change for the consumer looking for a new or newer car.
In addition, with an increase in used imports of less than three years old, it is likely some of these are displacing new car sales.
Economist Jim Power is forecasting that used imports are likely to reach 97,000 in 2017 - an increase of 34.4 per cent on 2016, while new car sales are to finish at around 131,650 - a decline of 10.2 per cent on last year.
This year has seen some rebalancing of fuel types in the market, the diesel share moving down from 70 to 65 per cent, and total hybrid and electric vehicles increasing from two to four per cent in market share. Used diesel imports remain at 79 per cent of this market; almost 20,000 of these imports are pre Euro 5 vehicles, which means they are not fitted with a diesel particulate filter.
With the forthcoming restrictions on older vehicles in cities in the UK, environmental concerns have been expressed at the potential for such cars, devalued in the UK, now finding their way into this marketplace, negatively impacting on the environmental progress made here by the improvement in new car sales since 2013. This is not just an issue in Ireland, but in many other European countries, where one country’s restrictions on older cars having the potential to cause such vehicles to be exported into a neighbouring member state.
The report also shows a number of price decreases in the cost of motoring. The average price of a new car in September 2017 was 3.5 per cent lower than a year earlier, while the cost of motor insurance in September 2017 was 14.3 per cent lower than it was a year earlier.