New car sales in Donegal were up for the first three months of 2021 compared with the same period last year - but the reality is that they are well below what they would be in any normal year due to the Covid pandemic.
The number of new cars registered in the county for January - March 2021 was 1,197 up 2.84% on a figure of 1,164 for the first three months of 2020.
New cars registered in Donegal in January totalled 604, in February they were 359 while in March there were 234 new registrations.
Given that garages have been only able to operate in extremely limited circumstances this year, the fact that sales are actually up is perhaps surprising. But they are well below where they should be.
To get a more accurate picture of the impact that Covid-19 has had, you need to compare the latest figures with those of 2019, which saw the trade showing signs of picking up after some difficult years.
For the period January - March 2019, new car registrations in Donegal stood at 1,394 (14.13% higher than this year) while the sales for January - March 2018 stood at 1,531 (21.82%) higher than this year.
Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General, pointed out that The first quarter of each year is the key selling period for the Irish Motor Industry.
Nationally, new car sales in quarter one when compared to the same period in pre-COVID 2019 are down 25%, or nearly 16,000 cars. This represents lost revenue to the sector in excess of €500 million and lost taxation to the Exchequer of €170 million.
He said: “With the lockdown now extended into April, the Industry will struggle to make up this lost business.
“In this context and in light of dealers’ ability to transact in a low risk outdoor environment, it is vital that we re-open at the start of May to allow dealers sell both new and used cars, and to protect local employment. On a more positive note, it is encouraging to see the increases in the sale of Electric Cars and PHEVs despite the restricted trading environment.”
National car registrations for the year to date are down 3.23% (48,188) on 2020 (49,794) and down 24.85% on the same period in 2019 (64,126).
Used car imports for March (5,842) have seen an increase of 25.61% on 2020 (4,651) and a decrease of 34.87% (8,970) on March 2019. Year to date imports are up 5.46% (18,420) on 2020 (17,466) and down 31.35% (26,832) on 2019.
For the month of March 1,046 new electric vehicles were registered compared to 369 in March 2020. So far this year 2,831 new electric cars have been registered in comparison to 1,650 on the same period 2020.