Fears put the brakes on sales of new cars
Sales of new cars are falling heavily when they should be surging against a backdrop of vibrant economic growth.
But the uncertainty around Brexit is draining people’s confidence. It is diverting them to used imports made cheap by sterling’s weakness against the euro and/or forcing them to defer a decision on a new car.
New registrations should be hitting the 145,000/150,000 mark, at least, given the level of growth in the economy.
Instead, a new report forecasts they will tumble to 110,000 this year (from 125,422 in 2018). Others in the industry fear they could trickle lower depending on the fallout from Brexit.
New-car registrations are already down 12.6pc to 32,374 compared with 37,023 for January 2018, according to the latest SIMI analysis.
Used-import registrations are marginally off too, but will go close to 100,000 this year, it predicts. If that transpires, we will have bought nearly as many imports as new cars by the end of 2019.
Also worrying is the slump in light-commercial van (LCV) buying. Sales are down 16.3pc (5,650) compared with the corresponding month last year. Used vans are also being imported in significant numbers from the UK.
But new-LCV sales are widely recognised as being among the best indicators of economic activity and confidence.
The report highlights how the Exchequer benefited to the tune of €1.5bn from car sales last year.