Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week confirms that car sales are down on last year. April Sales were down 9.6% on the same period last year and for January to April the decline is 10.9%.
According to the CSO 74,180 new cars were registered by the end of April this year. But this falls nearly 10,000 short of the figure released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) last week of 83,807 so why is there a discrepancy between these figures?
Why is there a difference between both figures?
The CSO counts “ vehicles taxed for road use only”. So only new cars that are taxed and therefore only those actually on the road are included in their figures. The discrepancy would suggest that 9,627 cars were registered but untaxed by the end of April or that as much as 11.5% per cent of the 2017 car fleet was untaxed.
What are untaxed cars?
Untaxed cars are essentially cars that have been registered by either the distributor or dealer, they are effectively selling these cars to themselves in order to meet sales targets set by manufacturers. This process is known as pre-registering.
Are there advantages to pre-registering cars?
Pre-registered cars can force dealers to give some great offers as there can be significant discounts on ‘nearly new’ cars sitting on forecourts. It also means you can drive the car away instantly and not have to wait a couple of months for delivery as is common with brand new cars.
So is Pre-Registration a good or bad idea?
From a buyer’s point of view it can be both good and bad. Pre-registered cars are essentially brand new cars with a hefty discount so that is good for the buyer but not so good for those who bought the same car a few months or even weeks before at the full price.
What about for the car market in general?
Pre-registrations seem to be a bit of a Pandora’s box, essentially it obscures what the real level of sales are in Ireland and can create a false impression of growth or as in this year conceal the extent of the decline.
In addition sales projections will be made for 2018 based on sales (including pre-regs) for 2017. The volumes then ordered in dealerships will reflect a pretty unattainable sales figure which will only further encourage dealers to pre-register hence creating a situation whereby the pre-registered component in the market just gets bigger and supply is exceeding demand.
11th May, 2017