DUBLIN Feb 10 New car sales in Ireland fell
year-on-year in January for the first time since 2013, as a
surge in used-car imports from the United Kingdom pushed sales
down 1.6 percent in what is usually the month people flock to
buy cars with new registration plates.
Car sales last year returned to the level last seen in 2008,
when Ireland was hit by a crippling financial crisis, but the
sharp fall in the value of sterling against the euro following
Britain's vote to leave the European Union last June has made
the importing of used cars from the UK more attractive.
Just over 26,500 new cars were sold in January compared with
more than 27,000 a year ago.
However close to 7,000 cars were imported and licenced for
the first time in Ireland last month, almost double the amount a
year ago, the central statistics office said on Friday.
New goods vehicles sales rose by more than 8 percent in a
sign that the economy continues to grow strongly.
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry forecast that new
car sales will fall 3 percent this year compared with a jump of
18 percent in 2016 when Ireland's economy probably grew faster
than any other in the EU for the third successive year.
Economic growth of 3.5 percent is still forecast for 2017
despite the challenges Brexit poses to vulnerable parts of the
economy such as the motor industry and exporting. Ireland's
Central Bank said last month that there had so far been a muted
overall impact from their near neighbour's impending EU exit.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Louise Ireland)