New car sales have dropped dramatically as attention turns to social distancing and new hygiene measures in dealerships

96% Drop In April New Car Registrations In Ireland

New car sales have dropped dramatically as attention turns to social distancing and new hygiene measures in dealerships
New car sales have dropped dramatically as attention turns to social distancing and new hygiene measures in dealerships

New car registrations have taken a dramatic nose dive in April 2020 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. According to new figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), new car registrations for April declined 96.1%. Just 344 new cars changed hands, versus 8,904 in April last year.

We reported last month how new car registrations were down 63% as Coronavirus disrupted business and the wider motor industry. Dealer showrooms have been closed now since March, impacting heavily on sales. Registrations year to date are down 30.7% (50,626) on the same period last year (73,030).

The commercial vehicle sector is also feeling the impact of closures, with light commercials vehicles (LCV) down 87.3% (229) compared to April last year (1,799) and year to date are down 25.3% (9,603). HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are down 67.8% (98) in comparison to April 2019 (304). Year to date HGVs are down 9.9% (1,070).

Used car imports for April (199) saw a decrease of 97.8% on April 2019 (8,887). While year to date imports are down 50.5% (17,669) on 2019 (35,719).

Year to date the top five bestselling brands in Ireland are 1. Toyota 2. Volkswagen 3. Hyundai 4. Skoda and 5. Ford. The bestselling models so far in 2020 are 1. Toyota Corolla 2. Hyundai Tucson 3. Volkswagen Tiguan 4. Ford Focus and 5. Skoda Octavia.

The market share by engine type is: Diesel 43.92%, Petrol 38.05%, Hybrid 12.33%, Electric 3.37% and Plug-In Hybrid 2.06%.

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said:

“Like many other sectors of the economy, COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the Irish Motor Industry. SIMI Members have during the course of the lockdown to date, been available to assist in emergency and essential call outs. We continue to play our part in keeping vital goods and services moving.

However, the registration numbers underline the lack of activity in new vehicle sales, and this is replicated for used cars and servicing. While the short-term outlook for the Irish economy is bleak, once the health situation allows, the Motor Industry is ready to get back to work. Members have used this downtime to implement measures, in accordance with both Industry and State guidelines, that will protect both their employees and customers against the spread of COVID-19. The size of dealerships and the average footfall, for both sales and servicing, lends itself to social distancing. While sanitisation measures being put in place for both premises and vehicles, means that safety and protection are at the top of the agenda.

With the July registration period approaching, the Motor Industry will be well placed to help start activity in the Irish economy. This has the potential to protect the nearly 50,000 people in employment in the sector, increasing Government Revenues, improving the safety of the cars on Irish roads, while also improving Ireland’s environmental performance by replacing old cars with new or newer cars. In this context, continuation of the current supports and cash flow benefits from Revenue will be important, while additional measures such as the cancelling of rates bills, and reductions in VAT and VRT would be very helpful as would the immediate re-opening of NCT and commercial vehicle test centres.”

This week we reported how the Opel dealer network is preparing to reopen with new hygiene and safety measures. Renault Ireland also announced an ambitious new 202 offers campaign to restart sales for their Renault and Dacia brands.

Elsewhere, brands have been contributing to Ireland's efforts to reduce the spread of the virus and support frontline staff. This week, SEAT Ireland announced it has supplied The Mater Hospital with a fleet of SEAT Alhambras as well as SEAT eXS KickScooters to assist frontline healthcare workers and patients during the COVID-19 crisis.


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

Coronavirus Hits New Car Sales In Ireland In March

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.


The Volkswagen Tiguan is now more popular in Ireland than the iconic Golf hatchback!

February 2020 New Car Registrations Ireland

The Volkswagen Tiguan was Ireland's bestselling car in February 2020
The Volkswagen Tiguan was Ireland's bestselling car in February 2020

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has released their official new vehicle statistics showing that new car registrations for February 2020 were down 7.7% (13,915) when compared to February 2019 (15,069).

Registrations year to date are also down 4.9% (45,096) on the same period last year (47,439).

The top 10 bestselling car brands so far in 2020 are:

1. Toyota
2. Volkswagen
3. Hyundai
4. Skoda
5. Nissan
6. Ford
7. Renault
8. Kia
9. Peugeot
10. Seat

The top 5 bestselling car models are:

1. Toyota Corolla
2. Hyundai Tucson
3. Volkswagen Tiguan
4. Ford Focus
5. Nissan Qashqai

The bestselling car in Ireland in February 2020 was the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Diesel accounted for 43.82% of new car registrations, with petrol at 39.12%, hybrid at 12.19%, electric at 2.87% and plug-in hybrid at 1.75%.

Used car imports for February (6,196) have seen a decrease of 30.1% on February 2019 (8,859). Year to date imports are down 28.2% (12,818) on 2019 (17,862).

For the month of February 401 new electric vehicles were registered compared to 325 on the same month last year +23.38%. While so far this year 1,294 new electric cars were registered in comparison to 1,124 on the same period last year an increase of 15.12%.

Light Commercials vehicles (LCV) are down 6.9% (2,294) compared to February last year (2,465) and year to date are down 0.8% (7,946). HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are up 14.5% (300) in comparison to February 2019 (262). Year to date HGV's are up 11.04% (684).

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, said:

New car sales continue to disappoint with February’s registrations showing further deterioration since January. Political and economic uncertainty is depressing consumer confidence and we now have the added problem of the Coronavirus, which may disrupt new hire drive registrations for the tourist season in March and April. The introduction of the new NOx charge in January has led to a fall in the demand for older used imports, with a fall of over 40% in used imports over 5 years old. New electric car registrations are up 15% (1,294) year to date yet, but further analysis of this number reveals that while private consumer purchases of EVs, which still attract the SEAI grant, are up over 30%, there has been a reduction in company electric car purchases where this support no longer applies."


The Nissan LEAF is a strong seller in the growing electric vehicle segment

New Car Registrations In Ireland January 2019

The Nissan LEAF is a strong seller in the growing electric vehicle segment
The Nissan LEAF is a strong seller in the growing electric vehicle segment

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has issued the official 191 new vehicle registration figures for January 2019. The figures show that for the month of January, new car registrations are down 12.6% (32,374) when compared to January 2018 (37,023).

It’s a similar story for Light Commercials, which are down 16.3% (5,650) compared to January last year (6,753), and HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are also down 11.4% (356) in comparison to January 2018 (402).

Electric vehicle registrations have increased significantly with 811 registrations in January 2019, which is more than for the whole of 2017 and over 60% of the total for the whole of last year. While electric vehicle numbers are still relatively low, they are showing strong growth having increased from less than 1% of the market last year to 2.6% market share in January this year which is an encouraging increase in the right direction.

Diesel continues to be the market leader in 2019 with a 49% share despite an 8% decline on January 2018.

Petrol has grown to 40% and hybrids currently account for 7% of the new car market.

The five bestselling car brands in Ireland in January 2019 were 1.Hyundai, 2.Volkswagen, 3.Ford, 4.Toyota and 5.Nissan.

The five bestselling cars in Ireland in January 2019 were 1.Hyundai Tucson, 2.Nissan Qashqai, 3.Ford Focus, 4.Toyota Yaris, and 5.Skoda Octavia.

Brian Cooke, Director General Designate, SIMI commented: “New Vehicle Registrations in January are clearly disappointing but not surprising. With Brexit fast approaching adding to business uncertainty, the weakness of Sterling is continuing to drive down used car values which is increasing the cost to change. While we hope the EU and UK’s negotiations result in agreement that allows for free trade, the likelihood of no deal is increasing by the day. While the Industry is ramping up its preparations for a no deal Brexit, in the context of the potential impact on a sector whose activity will be in the region of €5 billion between now and the end of the year, it is crucial that the State fully clarifies the trading conditions in the event of no agreement being reached. This is an immediate issue as we may be only 8 weeks away from a no deal outcome. More positively the increase in EV sales in the second half of last year has further accelerated into January, with the total EV registrations of 811 representing nearly two-thirds of EV sales for the whole of last year.”


Volkswagen Polo

New Car Registrations In Ireland In April 2018

Official data from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) shows that total new car registrations for the month of April in Ireland were up 3.33% (8,102) when compared to April 2017 (7,841).

New car registrations year to date remain down 4.68% (79,897) on the same period last year (83,823).

New Light Commercial Vehicle registrations (LCV) were up 6.51% (1,800) on April 2017 (1,690) and year to date are up 5.39% (14,323).

New Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV) registrations are also up 4.74% for the month of April (243) compared to the same month last year (232), and are down 8.31% (1,158) year to date.

Imported Used Cars have increased 19.31% for April 2018 (8,649) when compared to April 2017 (7,249) and year to date are 11.74% (34,763) ahead of 2017 (31,111).

Commenting on the figures SIMI Deputy Director General, Brian Cooke said “April’s registration statistics released today are broadly in line with expectations. The slight increases in all sectors for the month can be attributed somewhat to the extra working days in April 2018 compared to last year, as Easter fell in March. Brexit continues to impact on business, as evidenced by the continued strong levels of used imports from the UK. Total new car registrations are projected to reach around 120,000 by the end of the year, a decline of 8.6% on 2017.”

The top 5 bestselling car brands so far in 2018 are:
1. Volkswagen

2. Hyundai

3.Toyota

4.Ford

5. Nissan

The top 5 bestselling models so far in 2018 are:
1. Nissan Qashqai

2. Hyundai Tucson

3. Volkswagen Golf

4. Ford Focus

5. Skoda Octavia

The bestselling car in April in Ireland was the Volkswagen Polo.


hyundai tucson ireland

New Car Sales In Ireland In January 2017

According to figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), new car registrations in Ireland were down 1.7% in January 2017 compared to the same time last year. The month ended 39,019 new 171 cars registered versus 39,722 in January 2016.

Light commercials registrations were down 2.4% (6,394) compared to January last year (6,555), while HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations were down 6.3% (456) for January in comparison to the same time last year (487).

Commenting on the figures, economist Jim Power said, "Looking ahead to 2017, while the outlook for car sales is a bit more difficult to predict than last year, the projected growth in personal disposable incomes and the availability of credit provide solid support for car sales. However, the impact of Brexit and the increased volume in imported used cars are other issues that may impact on new car sales this year., Overall, though, numbers should be fairly close to last year with perhaps a slight decline of around 3% in new car sales in 2017, which would imply new car sales of around 142,000.”

Last year the Industry continued to generate strong returns for the Exchequer with a total VRT and VAT take of €1.5 billion (26.8% ahead of 2015) from new and used car sales alone.

Alan Greene SIMI President commented, “The Motor Industry continues to be a strong contributor to employment with 40,800 people employed throughout Ireland. Last year our Industry contributed €1.5 Billion to the Exchequer in car sales alone. 2017 was always going to be a more cautious year for businesses, right across the economy, but we have seen a steady start in January and hopefully we are on track for another good year and continuation of a stable market during the rest of the year”.

The top five selling car makes for January were Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan.

The top five selling models for January were the Hyundai Tucson followed by the Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Qashqai, and Volkswagen Golf.

Caroline Kidd


Hyundai Tucson ireland's bestselling car

New Car Sales August 2016: What's Ireland Buying?

Hyundai Tucson ireland's bestselling car
The Hyundai Tucson is still Ireland's bestselling car, outselling the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus

New data from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) shows that 7,313 new cars were registered in August 2016, and this figure is up 14% on August 2015 when 6,400 new cars were registered.

Meanwhile, total new car registrations for 2016 are still following the upward trend, up 19% (138,538) compared to the same period last year (116,195), and well on the way to breaking the 150,000 barrier predicted by year end.

Registrations of new Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) are up 11% (1,815) on the same month last year (1,642) and up 22% (24,545) year to date.

Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) registrations are also up 49% for the month of August 2016 (251) when compared to August last year (169), with registrations up 41% overall.

The data shows that Hyundai is still Ireland’s bestselling car brand, followed by Toyota and Volkswagen. The Hyundai Tucson was the top selling car in August but is also the bestselling car in Ireland to date in 2016, followed by the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

Commenting on the figures, Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General, said, "The Motor Industry has been working hard to deliver the continuing level of growth in what has been a noticeably more difficult market since June. As we move toward the end of the 3rd quarter of the year, the Industry remains focused on business still to be done, with strong offers still available for consumers. In contrast with the era before the two-period registration system was introduced, when sales were all but finished in the first quarter, the interest in new vehicle sales now tends to carry to the end of the third quarter, but obviously at a lower rate.

He also emphasises the importance of the Industry to the Exchequer and warns against any moves by the Government in the next Budget that could negatively impact the sector.

“We believe the Industry is still on course to deliver close to 150,000 new car sales by the end of the year, indeed new car sales have already generated €1.2 Billion for the Exchequer in VRT and VAT receipts. Our Industry currently employs over 42,000 people nationwide and it is crucial that the provisions in the forthcoming Budget for 2017 support rather than undermine the State’s tax revenues and employment across the sector. It is important that Budget 2017 contains measures that improve the position of both consumers and businesses. The potential for post-Brexit Sterling exchange rates to drain business away from the Irish domestic economy was highlighted by the increase of 76% in the number of imported used cars in July, so clearly the last thing we need at this stage is any further damaging tax increase in the forthcoming Budget. Suggestions of piece-meal increases on diesel fuel or indeed on motor tax being considered, at a time when soaring insurance costs are already impacting, would be damaging and extremely ill-conceived given that a new EU emissions regime is being rolled-out from next year which will require a major review of our current environmental taxation.

Our Industry, like the rest of the domestic economy, needs stability and as much certainty as is possible to support consumer and business confidence, especially given concerns regarding Brexit, in order to support a continuation of the recovery and progress of the past few years."

Caroline Kidd