New car sales are down, but good time to buy

By dAVID TUCKER

Official new car registration figures released by Car History experts Motorcheck.ie show that new car sales in February 2017 have fallen 21 per cent on last year with only 17,015 units sold compared to over 21,552 units for the same month in 2016.

This puts the overall new car market for the year to date behind by 8.7 per cent when compared to the first two months of 2016, with much of the root cause placed on the Brexit vote and the plunge in the value of sterling accelerating the numbers of imports from the UK.

In County Wexford, which accounts for 2.44 per cent of the market share, new car registrations are 10 per cent down so far this year, with 1,369 units sold compared to 1,522 during the same period last year.

Despite the fact that there was an extra day of trading in February, 2016 due to the leap year, concerns are beginning to grow within the motor trade as the month-on-month drop in sales is growing.

Comparing the first 28 days February, 2016 against the full month of February, 2017 shows a 3.25 per cent reduction compared to a 1.75 per cent drop in the month of January.

Traditionally, however, there is a large push in new car registrations on the last day of the month as manufacturers look to hit targets.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Rochford, Managing Director of Motorcheck.ie, said there is a lot of uncertainty around due to Brexit and with exchange rates in their current position used car imports from the UK are growing massively. 'But with 5,000 new cars being registered on the last day of January and almost 4,000 on the last day of February the message to the public is that this is a great time to go new car shopping as dealers will want to unload these pre-registered vehicles to sustain the market,' he said.

Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General, said the body had been anticipating lower numbers in February compared to 2016, with Brexit continuing to impact on used vehicle imports, with fewer working days this year and with less hire-drive cars because of a later Easter.

'But these numbers are somewhat poorer than we had hoped,' he said.

The Industry projections for the year suggest a market close to 140,000 for 2017, compared to 147,000 last year, but as Economist Jim Power stated previously, 'predicting the new car market for this year is going to be far more difficult than usual'.

Even with the relatively poor market in February, the year-to-date figure remains just eight per cent below last year so attention will now turn to the final month of the first quarter. As a result the market for March will be very closely watched by the Industry for a clearer indication of where the 171 registration period is likely to finish up. While the economic indicators for Ireland are extremely strong, the ESRI have recently noted a fall in consumer confidence in December followed by an increase in January, although still behind 2016. Despite the decline in new car sales, it's not all bad news for all marques and premium brand Mercedes-Benz has pushed its way into the top 10 selling manufacturers this year with a 79 per cent growth in new car sales, largely down to the 10 per cent price reduction being offered by the brand. The top five selling models in Wexford are: Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia.

Wexford People

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