Belfast Telegraph

Electric vehicles buck downward trend in new car sales

Sales of new cars declined by more than 10% up to the end of March, compared to the same period last year.

Electric car sales have soared (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Electric car sales have soared (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Sales of electric cars have soared bucking a nationwide trend of declining new car sales amid Brexit uncertainty.

New figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) showed more electric cars were registered in the first three months of this year than in the whole of 2018.

Some 1,437 electric cars were registered up to the end of March, compared to 1,233 for all of last year.

Sales of imported used cars also increased this year – by 2.74%.

But, overall, sales of new cars declined by more than 10% to 64,098 in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

SIMI director general designate Brian Cooke attributed the decline to the uncertainty caused by the UK leaving the EU, but said the increase in vehicle registration tax (VRT) on new cars for 2019, had also had a negative impact.

He said the decline had resulted in a €60 million drop in the state’s tax revenues from new cars.

“This shortfall is only going to increase as the year progresses,” he said.

“Low volumes in the new car market have largely resulted from lower used car values for consumers’ trade-ins due to the huge volume of used car imports from the UK.

“To add a tax increase that only applies to new cars, in such circumstances can only lead to the current result.

“We urge the Government to take account of the impact of increasing taxes, not just on new car sales but also on employment in the motor industry across the country, and on the environment when recasting VRT and other motor related taxes in 2020.”

Mr Cooke said the only positive in the new car market was the huge growth in electric car registrations so far this year, which he expected would continue.

The top five selling car brands in the first three months were Volkswagen, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford and Skoda.

The five most popular car models were the Hyundai Tucson,  the Nissan Qashqai, the Skoda Octavia, the Volkswagen Tiguan 5 and the Ford Focus.

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