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New figures show how ordinary people are turning their backs on buying a new car.

As part of an Irish Independent analysis, latest data shows a mere 59pc of new cars registered this year were private purchases.

Sources say the number of private new-car sales will plunge again next year as Brexit, economic uncertainty and used imports deter people from buying new models.

This is the first full year that the details of who is buying new cars have been broken down. In showing how private buying has slumped, they highlight how the motor industry relies for volume on registrations for hire-drive, leasing, pre-registrations and corporate sales.

The Irish Independent analysis of the SIMI data suggests:

  • People can’t afford, or are deterred by, the price of new models;
  • They are increasingly less bothered about traditional ownership and favour ‘usership’ via PCP deals etc;
  • They are diverting to lower-cost used imports rather than new models.

Relying on fewer private new-car deals could be storing up trouble for viability and jobs in the face of anticipated new taxation measures in the Budget.

The stark figures are likely to strengthen calls for a more benign tax treatment in the Budget than is anticipated after radical reforms were outlined by the Government’s Tax Strategy Group’s proposals.

The Simi figures show that out of a total of 106,994 new-car transactions so far this year, just 63,433 were privately registered.

It is estimated that a significant proportion of these would have been financed by a PCP or HP deal.

The exact level of private PCP deals is not known but an idea of its extent can be gauged by recent Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda) figures. It accounts for more than one-in-five new cars registered each year and its figures show more than 50pc of its new cars were financed in one guise or another by its own bank – with PCPs making up a big portion.

Meanwhile, in the rest of this year’s new-car registrations, 18,278 were hire-drives and 13,830 were registered under ‘motor industry’.

The latter mainly comprise demo models and vehicles registered to meet a brand’s or dealership’s targets.

The practice, known as ‘pre-regging’, sees cars registered in the last few days of the month to boost sales and are then sold on at a discount the following month as ‘nearly new’.

Another 5,432 cars were registered for leasing/contract hire with companies while another 5,235 were registered for business and company sales.

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