NEW car sales fell slightly in Laois last year, when just over 1,500 vehicles were newly registered in the county.
There were 1,508 new registrations in Laois in 2018, down from 1,527 in 2017 or a drop of 1.24%.
The figures just released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) include all types of vehicles, ranging from cars and vans to articulated trucks.
Sales figures for Laois are similar to neighbouring Offaly, which also saw a small drop in new registrations from 1,557 in 2017 to 1,540 last year, a fall of 1.09%. Although Offaly has a smaller population at 78,003, compared with 84,732 in Laois, it has a slightly higher number of new vehicle sales.
According to SIMI, the top-selling car brand in 2018 was Volkswagen, followed by Toyota, Hyundai, Ford and Nissan. The top five car models in terms of sales were Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia. Meanwhile, the most popular colour for new cars was grey and the top-selling body type was the hatchback.
Nationally, there were 125,557 new registrations in 2018, down 4.4% on the previous year’s total of 131,332.
For the first time in Irish motoring history, the number of imported used cars exceeded 100,000, with sales of 100,755 last year compared with 93,454 in 2017, an increase of 7.81%. However, used commercial vehicle imports fell slightly in 2018, with imported light commercial vehicle sales down 2.9% and imported heavy goods vehicle (HGV) sales down 0.5%.
New electric car registrations almost doubled last year at 1,233 compared with 622 in 2017. The diesel and petrol market share moved closer, with diesel accounting for 54% of sales in 2018 and petrol 44%, which includes petrol hybrid.
Describing 2018 as “very challenging” for new car sales, SIMI director general designate Brian Cooke said the drop in new car registrations was largely due to Brexit and the associated weakness of sterling.
He said: “This has led to a surge in used car imports over the last two years. With the new 191 sales period now commencing, January and the first quarter will be the key focus for dealers.”