The uncertainty around Brexit is helping to fuel big drops in some new executive-car buying – with a number of premium marques down significantly so far.
Our analysis of new-car registrations (to February 4) shows posh cars have been among the hardest hit – in percentage terms at least.
Several factors are being attributed:
* The deepening concerns about the Brexit scenario – executives/companies are uneasy about committing to buy until the dust settles.
* People are buying fresh secondhand premium imports instead of new vehicles on the home market and are being perceived to save a lot of money in the process.
* Restoration by some marques of prices from previous discounts which were designed to hold market share in the face of burgeoning imports over the past few years.
* Shortage of stock, especially of bigger-selling models, due to production schedules and demand elsewhere.
* Some marques are caught between the runout of older-model lines and an influx of brand new ones this spring and summer.
* Traditionally, some executive brands are ‘slow starters’ and can be expected to pick up momentum.
But such a low-key start to the year makes recovering lost ground and attracting more buyers all the more difficult.
That is especially the case as buying a UK import is regarded by so many as such an easy and attractive option and has become part of the Irish market system now.
A number of mainstream marques are down too, of course.
Even some of those doing relatively well have suffered small percentage drops for one reason or another in what is, after all, a shrinking new-car market. There are predictions of 110,000 registrations for all of 2019 – a drop from 125,000 last year.
But some of the more dramatic falls focus on the executive sector. On the face of it Mercedes is hit hard with a 43pc dip compared with the corresponding period for last year.
However, they have a wave of new cars coming in the near future which they will expect to bolster sales. But, as January usually accounts for a quarter of sales for the year, it will involve a big turnaround.
Audi new-car registrations are down 21pc, with BMW dipping 27pc. Porsche, meantime, have several new models due and are confidently forecasting more buyers than last year despite being 86pc down during the early stages of 2019.
In that context, Lexus is faring well with just a 9pc drop on a market that is down 12.5pc for January. Tesla’s statistics reflect that most accurately with a 12.5pc decrease in its registrations. Jaguar, meantime, are just 2.2pc down.
Statistics don’t convey the real picture in many cases. The 50pc increase in Bentley sales makes a total of three models sold.
And there are some substantial gains – such as Land Rover’s 20pc increase and Volvo’s 11.8pc.