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North and South sees new car registrations crash

Official statistics released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show that the total new car registrations in the Republic of Ireland for 2018 finished at 125,557, 4.4 per cent down on 2017 (131,332).

Meanwhile, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that new car sales in Northern Ireland are at a five-year low, with sales down 3.35 per cent in 2018. 52,533 new cars were sold in Northern Ireland in 2018 compared to 54,356 in 2017.

The top selling car in the Republic of Ireland for 2018 was the Hyundai Tuscon, according to SIMI, with the Nissan Qashqai, the Ford Focus, the Volkswagen Golf and the Skoda Octavia making up the top five best selling cars for 2018.

Compared to Northern Ireland, the Hyundai Tuscon was only the fourth best selling car in 2018 according to SMMT, with the Ford Fiesta taking top spot. The Ford Kuga ranked second in sales, with the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai ranking third and fifth respectively.

Commenting, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes described 2018 for the North as “highly turbulent” and insists sales were “on par” with the average over the past 10-15 years.

Hawes added that a no-deal Brexit would be a “catastrophe for the industry”.

SIMI Director General Designate, Brian Cooke commented on the South’s position: “Despite the strong economic performance of Ireland last year, 2018 proved very challenging for new car sales. The drop in new car registrations is largely a result of Brexit and the associated weakness of Sterling.”

SMMT figures also show that some diesel car owners are making the change to petrol (up nine per cent) or alternatively fuelled vehicles such as pure electrics or plug in hybrids (up 21 per cent). However, this also suggests that the majority are holding onto their existing vehicle.

Statistics from SIMI show that new electric car registrations for 2018 increased with 1,233 registered in comparison to 622 in 2017. The diesel and petrol market share have moved closer, with diesel in 2018 accounting for 54 per cent and petrol (including Petrol Hybrid) 44 per cent.