Economics: New Irish private cars licensed forecast to post double-digit year-on-year decline in September

Later this morning the Central Statistics Office (CSO) will release official data on new private cars licensed in Ireland for September. The number of new cars licensed for the first time fell again on an annual basis in August, and was down 10% in the first eight months of the year.

There were 8,105 new private cars licensed for the first time in August, down 1,676 (17.1%) on the same month of 2016. That brought to 116,767 the number licensed in the first eight months of 2017 – which was 12,966 (10.0%) fewer than in the same period of last year.

The CSO figures capture the point at which a car is first issued with a valid motor tax disc. However, they are broadly in line with figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), which refer to the point at which cars get their licence plate.

But the fall in new vehicles being licensed is more than made up for by a jump in the number of second-hand cars being imported, likely due to buyers crossing the border to take advantage of the weakness in sterling.

During August, there were 8,220 private cars imported to the country – up 2,085 (34.0%) year-on-year. Meanwhile there were 60,763 imported in the first eight months of the year, up 18,217 (42.8%).

As regards the overall outlook for 2017, new cars licensed are in our view now set to be 8-12% lower than in 2016. For September, an annual drop of 15% in new cars licensed is anticipated.

Alan McQuaid (11/10/17)
Economist