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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020
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12 per cent fall in new car sales in February

A total of 9,671 private cars were sold for the first time in February – down from nearly 11,000 the same time last year.

Image: renkshot via Shutterstock

THE NUMBER of new cars sold in February was 12 per cent lower than the equivalent figure a year ago, new figures have shown.

CSO data on the number of vehicles licensed for the first time shows that 9,671 private cars were registered in February 2013 – down from 10,993 in the previous year.

The number of goods vehicles was also down, with 1,120 vehicles registered for the first time – down from 1,455 in 2012.

The combined figures mean that the total number of vehicles registered for the first time in February was down by 14 per cent compared to the same time last month.

The February figures follow a fall of 26 per cent in the number registered in January – contributing to an overall fall of 20 per cent in the rate of new sales so far this year, when compared to the first two months of last year.

The fall could be attributed to the introduction of the new car registration plate system, which will see different prefixes on number plates for cars registered in the first and second halves of the year.

Dealers will hope for summer spike

Ireland’s motor dealers had argued that the previous system led buyers to perceive a car as automatically being a year or more old if it carried the previous year’s number plate – even if the car had been purchased at the end of the year.

For example, a car with a 12-D registration plate would be seen as being ‘a year old’ by buyers looking at second-hand cars, even if it was only registered for the first time in November or December.

They believed that this behaviour, in turn, gave new car buyers an incentive to buy their car early in the year so that they got a full year’s usage out of the vehicle.

Dealers will now hope that the sales in July and August, when registration plates carrying the new 132- prefix will be first issued, will vindicate their theory.

Figures from SIMI, the motor dealers’ body, suggested that new car registrations stood at 10,617 in February – though this was, again, a fall of 7.5 per cent when compared to its own figures for February 2012.

SIMI’s figures showed that Volkswagen was Ireland’s most popular car brand in February, accounting for 11.6 per cent of all cars registered in February, ahead of Toyota on 10.2 per cent and Nissan on 9.2 per cent.

Read: 60 per cent of people struggling to keep their car on the road

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Gavan Reilly

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