March registration numbers cloak very poor levels of business

The SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) last week released the March car sales figures which show a 9% fall on March 2011. There were 13,100 new cars sold in March, a decrease of 1,296 on March 2011 (14,396). The Year to Date figure of 45,898 to the end of March is 4.3% (2,068) down on the First Quarter of last year (47,966, 7,886 of which were bought under the Government Scrappage Scheme that ended last June).

The First Quarter is crucial for the Motor Industry as almost 50% of new car sales normally occur in the first three months of the year. Given the very weak level of retail activity in dealerships at present, though, the Industry is not expecting this year to finish anywhere close to last year’s overall total of 89,927.

According to Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General, it would be misleading to read this month’s statistics as an indication that sales are holding up well. “While we have seen the numbers hold up reasonably well in the absence of Scrappage, this really has to be seen in context. The Industry had pre-ordered its cars for 2012 as early as last summer and in March we have seen brands pushing to get these cars registered through fleet deals and hire-drives etc on the basis that if registrations are not achieved in the first quarter then they just may not get their cars registered.”

“Despite the reasonably good numbers, retail consumer sales remain very weak, with Franchise dealers reporting very poor consumer footfall and low levels of forward orders in the pipe-line. On the basis of the current level of activity we would still predict a market in the region of 76,000 new car sales for 2012.”

Key Figures:

New car sales March: 13,100 down 9 %

New car sales year to date: 45,898 down 4.3%

New Light Commercial Vehicle (van) sales March: 1,415 down 8.7%

New Light Commercial Vehicle (van) sales YTD: 5,032 up 1.9%

New Heavy Good Vehicle (truck) sales October: 106 down 15.9%

New Heavy Good Vehicle (truck) sales YTD: 399 up 12.1%.




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