Despite challenges in the new car market, the Toyota Corolla remains Ireland's bestselling car
Despite challenges in the new car market, the Toyota Corolla remains Ireland’s bestselling car

Coronavirus is already making itself known in the Irish motor industry. According to figures released today by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), new car registrations for March were down a significant 63% when compared to March 2019. Just 6,174 new cars were registered versus 16,687 for this time last year.

It’s a trend that will no doubt be seen across Europe as car production and the retail network is put on hold in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. In Ireland, restrictions have been in place since 27th of March that have seen all non-essential businesses close. These include dealer showrooms and service departments except for emergencies and for the service and maintenance of vehicles for frontline health and security workers. We’ve already examined how Coronavirus is affecting the motor industry in this article.

Registrations year to date are also down 20.5% (51,015) on the same period last year (64,126). However in a shrinking market, sales of electric vehicles did show some growth, up nearly 22% on March 2019.

The top five bestselling brands so far this year are 1. Toyota, buoyed by sales of the award-winning Corolla, 2. Volkswagen 3. Hyundai, 4. Skoda and 5. Ford.  The top five betselling cars year to date are 1.Toyota Corolla, 2. Hyundai Tucson, 3.Volkswagen Tiguan, 4. Ford Focus and 5. Skoda Octavia. The bestselling car in March was the Toyota Corolla.

Light Commercials vehicles (LCV) are down 52.9% (1,434) compared to March last year (3,044) and year to date are down 15.2% (9,378). HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are up 17.67% (313) in comparison to March 2019 (266). Year to date HGV’s are up 12.59% (993).

Used car imports for March (4,656) have seen a decrease of 48.1% on March 2019 (8,970). Year to date imports are down 34.9% (17,471) on 2019 (26,832).

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said:

The health of our nation is the overriding priority. The Motor Industry will assist the State in any way we can during this pandemic. While showrooms, service and other activities within the Industry are closed, members are available to assist in emergency call-out or delivery services. This will be vital in keeping essential and emergency services moving.

The Motor Industry and its employees, like so many Industries, is feeling the devastating impact of COVID-19. Even before the crisis commenced, the new car market was in decline, and this fall has accelerated rapidly in the last fortnight with new car activity down nearly two-thirds on last year. Whatever the duration of this crisis, once we emerge, we will need to see decisive and ambitious action from Government to protect the nearly 50,000 jobs in our sector.”

While dealer showrooms are closed for obvious reasons, many dealers are still available to answer sales enquiries by phone and by email. This is still a good time to research your new car. Changing Lanes holds a vast amount of information on new cars and the car buying process, from useful articles on how to finance a new car, to definitive car reviews of all the latest models. If you have a question please get in touch using our Contact form.