WE BOUGHT one third more cars last month than we did in the same month last year, leading to some optimism among car dealers.
SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) released the figures today, showing 22,927 new cars were bought in January 2014, up 33 per cent on last year (17,242) and 8 per cent up on 2012 (21,309).
Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General, said that it was clear in December that there was a “strong demand for new 141 cars”, with dealers “reporting far better levels of activity in the lead-up to January”.
Feedback from dealers suggests that consumer interest is continuing with a noticeable increase in showroom footfall and there certainly is a sense of optimism in dealerships that hasn’t been apparent for many years.
So what has encouraged people to spend on cars? “There may have been some built-up demand from last year and the earlier Budget may also have helped people to make the decision to buy,” said Nolan.
“There is also a greater availability of affordable finance and an overall improvement in the confidence among Irish consumers.”
He did note, however, that it is very early days “so we are still cautious in relation to where the market might end up this year”. Despite this, Nolan said that there is “a strong sense that we’re now above the bottom and beginning to move upwards”.
According to SIMI, there appears to be a smaller proportion of registrations in the last few days of this January compared to 2013, “which is a sign that the stronger demand this year is being driven by consumers”.
In addition, demand for used cars in dealerships has also been strong, while the supply of locally-sourced cars remains limited.
There has been an increase in imported used cars, of 35 per cent on 2013 and 39 per cent over 2012. Around 50 per cent of imported used cars are recorded as being registered by motor dealers.
SIMI also said that commercial vehicles saw improved levels of activity in January. Sales of LCVs (vans) were up 42 per cent on 2013 and 29 per cent on 2012, while HGVs (trucks) are 31 percent up on 2013 and 19 per cent better than in 2012.
“The commercial vehicle market is more of an indication of what is happening in the Irish economy, confirming a noticeable increase in activity among small and medium businesses,” said Nolan.