The motor industry was one of the hardest-hit by the recession. New car sales fell sharply – ‘stopped’ might be a better way of putting it – and in the turmoil that followed, dealerships closed down, people lost their jobs, an entire industry was decimated.
It’s taken seven years but the recovery is now, finally, in full swing. Since the turn of the year, cautious optimism has been replaced by tangible evidence of a resurgent market, while this summer’s headlines have been music to the ears of dealerships, manufacturers and anyone connected to the motor trade:
In July, the first day of 142-registration sales outstripped the entire first week of 132 sales.
A week later, new cars sales for the year to date had exceeded the entire 2013 market.
By the end of the month, a whopping 61% increase in sales over 2013 made it the best July on record for vehicle registrations.
And by the first week of September, it was reported that the Irish exchequer had gained an additional €171 million from new car sales this year.
New car sales for the full year are not expected to hit the 100,000 mark – the SIMI reports that the market is still only at 60% of normal sales volume – but the relief, and sense of optimism, in the industry must be profound.
Indeed, as the recovery gathers pace there’s a sense that 2015 can’t come quickly enough.
As we speak, manufacturers are putting the finishing touches to the offers and promotions they hope will enable them, and their dealer networks, to hit the new year running.
For all brands, the stakes are high. Next year is a golden opportunity to capitalise on the growing consumer confidence, and the big boys will be going all-out to top the sales charts.
Ford in fine fettle
Of all the runners and riders, Ford appears to be in the best shape to take the coveted No. 1 sales slot for 2015. The Cork-based manufacturer has the most prolific dealer presence in Ireland, and a sharp, tech-driven vehicle range that will soon be bolstered by the arrival of a new Mondeo.
Then there’s Focus. Already the best-selling nameplate in the world, an all-new and excitingly revamped Focus will arrive in Ireland in perfect time for the defining Jan/Feb sales market.
Good news for Ford.
Then again, in the context of the past few, sales-starved years, 2015 promises to deliver good news for all.