Automotive Industry in Ireland in 2020: What the Numbers Tell Us

Automotive Industry in Ireland in 2020 - Cartell Data

Note: All data shared in this article is provided by Cartell

So 2020 is behind us and there aren’t too many reasons to look back on the year fondly. Certainly, like many other industries, the automotive industry in Ireland was severely affected by the pandemic and Cartell’s 2020 data reveals total sales of new cars amounted to 84,920 which is just under 75% of the sales total in 2019 (113,631). So it could be argued that the Coronovirus is to blame for a 25% dip in new car sales, especially with dealerships closed and showrooms locked down for large parts of the year. Indeed were it not for the innovative measures introduced by dealers such as virtual showrooms, zoom and live chat sessions and more flexible delivery options then the situation could have been significantly worse.

However it’s worth looking at the sales of new cars in context, and if we compare the new car sales figures in January of 2020 (30084) and 2019 (30977) then it is apparent that there may have been a small reduction in sales anyway, as even during this pre-Covid period sales were down about 3% year on year. Therefore it might be fairer to say that the Coronavirus accelerated the decline in sales as some warning signs were already apparent in the early part of the year. Of course nobody could have predicted what lay ahead of us all at that time.

In terms of brands that were popular in 2020 we see the same familiar manufacturers at the head of the queue as the top three remain unchanged from 2019 with Volkswagen leading the way followed by Toyota and then Hyundai. The only significant change from 2019 was Skoda jumping ahead of Ford into fourth place.

And it’s a similar story with the models preferred by consumers of new vehicles as the Toyota Corolla wins out for the second year in a row (although unsurprisingly with less sales (3562) than in 2019 when 4222 were sold). The Tiguan was the second most popular new car model in 2020 – an improvement on its fifth place position in 2019 while the Tucson picked up the bronze medal as it did in 2019. While the Nissan Qashqai was favoured less in 2020 falling to sixth in the popularity stakes compared with its second position in 2019 which probably represents the fact that the SUV and crossover market is becoming increasingly competitive.

When it comes to fuel type there is no surprise as again diesel is leading the way with 36,646 vehicles ahead of the 31,439 new vehicles with petrol engines registered in 2020. The takeaway here though is the continuing strong performance of petrol/electric hybrid vehicles as sales increase on 2019 (9,864 sold in 2020 versus 9680 in 2019). To register an increase in sales is an especially noteworthy achievement during a time of enforced lockdowns with forecourts across the land inaccessible to buyers. Electric only vehicles mirrored this trend with 4,279 sales compared with 3,453 in 2019 so it’s safe to assume that slowly but surely the combination of environmental awareness, a wider range of models on the market, governmental incentives and charging resources are having an impact. Whether all new sales will be electric in 2030 remains in doubt though!

You won’t be too surprised to hear that the two most popular colour types for new vehicles purchased in 2020 were grey and black. There is plenty of academic research out there that suggests the most popular car colour reflects how an economy is performing so it’s no great surprise that the darker colours proved a popular option. As for the least popular colour; let’s just say you will do well to spot a purple vehicle with a 2020 reg on your travels as there are just 35 of them in the fleet. I guess people weren’t in a purple mood last year!

To wrap up our review of the 2020 new car market in Ireland we can point to some other insights arising from Cartell’s data. Automatic transmissions are becoming more and more favoured possibly due to the increased number of vehicles available along with the heightened demand for these transmissions from drivers. For example Toyota hybrids were a very popular choice in 2020 and these are exclusively automatic transmission vehicles. Even in the space of a single year the ratio of automatic vehicles has risen from 31.94% in 2019 to 39.52% last year which is quite a significant leap in such a short space of time. And to quickly summarise the other trends without bogging you down with too many statistics we can see that 4 door vehicles remain the most popular but 5 doors are closing the gap, while hatchbacks lead the way as the most popular body type with SUVs and Estates/Jeeps not too far behind.

While the data is painting a certain picture the reality is that dealers themselves have been through as turbulent a year as you can imagine dealing with the twin uncertainties of a global pandemic and the Brexit situation. On top of that there are concerns surrounding new taxes and charges, the ability to resource certain types of vehicle and a requirement to do business differently than ever before. Let us hope that the market can prove itself as resilient and innovative as it needs to be to ride out these troubling times.