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May 1, 2020

Irish car market down 96% in April

The new car market in the Republic of Ireland fell by a staggering 96% year-on-year in the month of April due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

By Sam Duke

The new car market in the Republic of Ireland fell by a staggering 96% year-on-year in the month of April due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said new car registrations for April declined 96.1% to just 344 units when compared to April 2019 (8,904 units). As a result of COVID-19, showrooms in Ireland have remained closed since Mid-March, impacting heavily on sales. Registrations year to date are down 30.7% (50,626) on the same period last year (73,030).

The commercial vehicle sector is also feeling the impact of closures, with Light Commercials vehicles (LCV) down 87.3% (229) compared to April last year (1,799) and year to date are down 25.3% (9,603). HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) registrations are down 67.8% (98) in comparison to April 2019 (304). Year to date HGV's are down 9.9% (1,070).

Used car imports for April (199) have seen a decrease of 97.8% on April 2019 (8,887). While year to date imports are down 50.5% (17,669) on 2019 (35,719).

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General commenting on the market figures said: "Like many other sectors of the economy, COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the Irish Motor Industry. SIMI Members have during the course of the lockdown to date, been available to assist in emergency and essential call outs. We continue to play our part in keeping vital goods and services moving. However, the registration numbers underline the lack of activity in new vehicle sales, and this is replicated for used cars and servicing.

"While the short-term outlook for the Irish economy is bleak, once the health situation allows the motor industry is ready to get back to work. Members have used this downtime to implement measures, in accordance with both Industry and State guidelines, that will protect both their employees and customers against the spread of COVID-19. The size of dealerships and the average footfall, for both sales and servicing, lends itself to social distancing. While santisation measures being put in place for both premises and vehicles, means that safety and protection are at the top of the agenda.

"With the July registration period approaching, the motor industry will be well placed to help start activity in the Irish economy. This has the potential to protect the nearly 50,000 people in employment in the sector, increasing government revenues, improving the safety of the cars on Irish roads, while also improving Ireland's environmental performance by replacing old cars with new or newer cars.

"In this context, continuation of the current supports and cash flow benefits from Revenue will be important, while additional measures such as the cancelling of rates bills, and reductions in VAT and VRT would be very helpful as would the immediate re-opening of NCT and commercial vehicle test centres."

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