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Used imports have increased their share of the secondhand market to record levels – despite a fall-off in car buying generally, a new report has revealed.

It gives a snapshot of activity in the Irish car market thanks to an analysis of data by BAC Auto Consulting.

Used-car sales for the first seven months of the year are down 4.2pc when imports are included in the overall amounts.

They are down 4.4pc when imports are excluded.

Sales have fallen every month this year, except March, over the corresponding period in 2018, the report points out.

To the end of July this year, used imports accounted for 22.9pc of all secondhand sales – up from 21.9pc in 2018.

That is a record level of percentage volume since Cartell data began.

The vehicle-history check company says the impact on used-car sales is expected to continue while the UK border stays open and the euro remains strong against Sterling.

In its analysis, the report’s authors add: “While the issue of an open or closed border between Ireland and the UK is seen as the biggest issue facing Brexit, there is some irony that a closed border could actually be a good thing for parts of Ireland’s automotive industry.”

The analysis continues to outline how:

:: Back in 2013, with a relatively strong euro against the British pound, imports were flooding in at a rate of two-for-every-three new cars sold.

“With the collapse of the euro in 2015 the ratio dropped to 1:3 before rising again to a record of almost four imports for every five new cars sold in 2018.

“However, the UK stumbling over Brexit had businesses stockpiling in the run-up to the original March 2019 Brexit date which boosted UK GDP growth and strengthened the pound against the euro.”

Despite the pound falling further against the euro since March, total imports remain 5.4pc down over the first six months of last year.

The UK car market fell by 4.3pc for the first half of 2019 compared with the corresponding period for 2018.

The introduction of the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test could prompt some UK dealers and manufacturers to push new car sales in the run-up to September to clear out stock before new regulations kick in – and recover some lost sales.

The political brinkmanship over Brexit could also keep the pound weak – adding to the attractiveness of importing, the report concludes.

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