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More people are likely to buy a new car next year than had been expected – thanks to a reasonable Budget and the 2020 reg-plate factor.

And one-in-10 of all new cars bought are likely to be electric or have an electric element as greater numbers come on stream.

But a key element in expecting more new-car buyers is the anticipation that fewer will buy older second-hand imports following the imposition of a NOx tax on UK models. Some older imports could be hit with a €1,500 price hike.

As fears of a harsh Budget have dissipated, many in the motor industry now believe dealers can win back new-car sales to replace a percentage of the used imports that would otherwise have been bought.

Among those acknowledging some optimism is Renault Ireland chief Paddy Magee.

He bases his, albeit guarded, forecast on the fact that as a country we replace around 10pc of the total number of cars on the road (called the national fleet) every year. That comes to 210,000-215,000 between new cars and used imports.

If the latter numbers fall due to higher prices there is every chance a percentage of would-be buyers will opt to purchase new.

Of course, they could also decide to buy nearly-newer in the UK.

Alongside the possibility of a swing to more new cars, is also the reality that a percentage of people have waited to get a 201 registration plate. And there will be a reasonable level of PCP renewals.

All of which points to a better 2020 than was envisaged five or six weeks ago.

On the topic of electric cars, Mr Magee, speaking at the Irish launch of Renault’s new Clio, forecast that as many as one-in-five (20pc) new cars bought in 2022 will be ‘electrified’.

He pointed to the huge growth of EV buying in the commercial sector, especially.

He cited An Post as a prime example of a company making a major drive towards EVs.

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