Nissan has revealed 2018 pre-sales figures to the Irish motoring media that show that Irish motorists are switching to petrol cars at a much faster rate than the car industry or market analysts predicted.

The number of new car buyers who have opted to buy the petrol version of the Nissan Qashqai has increased from 29% in 2017 to 54% for 2018.

The numbers buying the diesel model have fallen from 71% to 46%.

At a press briefing James McCarthy, CEO of Nissan Ireland, pointed out that the Nissan Qashqai is a good barometer of what is happening in the market because it’s a high volume seller and customers have a choice of petrol or diesel when buying a new Qashqai.

“Our 181 pre-sales figures have swung in favour of petrol for the first time, heralding a return towards the natural market position of 70:30 that existed in 2007.”

“The rate of change is far more accelerated than predicted and the trend from our 181 pre-sales figures provides very real evidence that the split between petrol and diesel car sales is well on track to being close to equal by the end of next year,” he added.

McCarthy said that drivers are taking a much harder look at their mileage and whether the cost benefits of running a diesel car will be ultimately outweighed by the higher entry costs of owning a diesel car and potential lower residual values.

Nissan Ireland is also predicting that cumulative electric vehicle (EV) sales will increase from 3,500 to 14,000 units by 2020. McCarthy said that the Government’s target of having 20,000 EVs on Irish roads by that time can be achieved, but only with significant investment in the country’s EV re-charging infrastructure.

Nissan is Ireland’s bestselling car brand of petrol cars with over 4800 new petrol cars sold by the brand in 2017.

Caroline Kidd