New car sales up 54pc last month compared to March 2020

New car sales were up over 54 per cent (9,270) last month when compared to March 2020 (6,006), according to figures published today by the Society for the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

However, the data shows that sales were still down over 44.45 per cent (16,687) on “pre-Covid” March 2019.

SIMI figures show that electric vehicle, plug-in hybrids and hybrids continue to increase in popularity, with their combined market share now over 11 per cent.

It says 1,046 electric vehicles were registered last month, up from 369 during the same period in 2020.

So far this year, 2,831 new electric cars have been registered, compared to 1,650 during the same period last year.

Diesel and petrol cars are still the most popular options, with over 36 per cent of new cars sold diesel and over 32 per cent petrol.

The figures show a 25.61 per cent (5,842) increase in used car imports last month, compared to March 2020 (4,651) and a decrease of almost 35 per cent (8,970) on March 2019.

Year to date imports are up 5.46 per cent (18,420) on 2020 (17,466) and down over 31 per cent (26,832) on 2019.

The top selling car for March 2021 was the Volkswagen ID.4, while Toyota was the top selling car brand last month.

The Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Corolla, Toyota RAV 4, Ford Focus and the Toyota Yaris are the top five best selling cars so far this year.

Meanwhile SIMI says light commercial vehicles (LCV) are up over 110 per cent (3,008) compared to March last year (1,431) and down 1.1 per cent (3,042) for the same month in 2019.

Year to date new LCVs are up 22.41 per cent (11,346) on last year (9,269) and up just 2.63 per cent (11,055) on 2019.

Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) registrations are up 11.54 per cent (319) in comparison to March last year (286) and over 19 per cent (268) on March 2019. So far this year, HGVs are down nearly three per cent (882) on 2020 (908) and down 0.23 per cent on 2019 (884).

Brian Cooke, SIMI director general says: “With dealers still able to operate on a click and deliver basis, new car sales are only marginally back on last year.

“However, this does not tell the real story. The first quarter of each year is the key selling period for the Irish Motor Industry, and new car sales in Q1 when compared to the same period in pre-Covid 2019 are down 25 per cent, or nearly 16,000 cars. This represents lost revenue to the sector in excess of €500 million and lost taxation to the Exchequer of €170 million.

“With the lockdown now extended into April, the Industry will struggle to make up this lost business. In this context and in light of dealers’ ability to transact in a low risk outdoor environment, it is vital that we do re-open at the start of May to allow dealers sell both new and used cars, and to protect local employment.

“On a more positive note, it is encouraging to see the increases in the sale of Electric Cars and PHEVs despite the restricted trading environment.”