Despite the Irish economic prospects looking better than at the beginning of the year, car sales are down 8%, commercial vehicle sales are down 11% and heavy goods vehicles are down 3% in the first quarter of this year.

In their first Quarterly Motor Industry Review for 2017, the The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) in association with DoneDeal, refers to the figures as being ‘challenging’ and ‘uncertain’ for the Industry.

Jim Power Economist and author of the Review said consumer behaviour remains ‘relatively cautious’.

“Personal expenditure on big ticket items such as cars is being undermined by the ongoing upward pressure on the price of necessities such as motor and home insurance, private rents, private health insurance and housing,” he said.

The review outlines that the cost of motoring in 2017 which has seen an increase in petrol of 14.3% and diesel prices up 18.7% (March 2017 vs March 2016).

Although Motor insurance costs have seen a reduction of 6.1% from July 2016 to March 2017 over the full year March 2016 to March 2017, motor insurance still shows an overall increase of 0.7%.

Brexit also continues to play a role in uncertainty. Alan Nolan of the SIMI said the decline in new car sales has been a nationwide trend in the first quarter of 2017. “Used car imports increased by 56% while LCV imports were up 53% on the first quarter of 2016.”