There are signs that the market for new and used cars may pick up in 2014 according to research carried out by the AA. In a survey of over 26,000 car users carried out in November, 2.9% of respondents said that they would definitely buy a new car in 2014; 6.7% said that they might do so.
“Those are surprisingly good numbers.” Says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “There are 1.88 million private cars in Ireland currently but new sales have been very weak in recent years with only around 75,000 new registrations for 2013. Our survey would imply a lift on that figure for next year.”
Based on the responses to the AA Consumer Panel Survey it would equate to 54,500 definite new car sales for next year with a further 126,000 who ‘might’ buy a new vehicle.
“The unknown is how many of those ‘maybes’ will actually convert.” Says Faughnan. “But even if only a quarter of them do so that would still equate to around 85,000 new sales next year which would be a substantial uplift.”
This is good news for the industry but also for the Irish fleet in general. Car sales have collapsed from 186,000 in 2007 to less than half of that amount in the recession years that followed. This has meant a general ageing and deterioration of the Irish car fleet with the average age of an Irish car now nearly 9 years old. The AA is seeing first hand evidence of this in increasing numbers of break-downs associated with aging cars.
“We would certainly like to see an increase in car sales, not just because it would indicate an upturn in the economy but because it would mean an improvement in the standards of cars out there. The AA does not mind being busy but the older a car gets the more you run the risk of a vehicle defect causing an accident.”
The AA research also pointed to a big demand for second hand cars next year. 5.2% of respondents said they would definitely buy a second-hand car next year and 17.6% said that they might do so.
“In normal circumstances there are about 2.5 second-hand car sales for every new car sale so those figures are consistent.” Says Faughnan. “The AA’s own Vehicle Inspection Service does detailed pre-purchase inspections of second-hand cars; we are already seeing an increase in enquiries which supports the research findings and makes us confident in predicting that sales will be up next year.”
“Granted this is from a very low recession-era base and we are certainly not talking about a return to Tiger-style numbers but it is positive all the same.”
Advice for buying a second-hand car
· Look before you buy – It may seem obvious, but having a look at the car during daylight hours and take it for a test drive.
· Beware the private sale – Cars sold privately may cost less but if it breaks down a few months after you buy it, you’re on your own.
· Don’t rush into it – Car salesmen can often use lines like “I have someone else looking at this car”, “I don’t know if we’ll still have it next week” or “if you buy it now, you’ll have it for the weekend”. Don’t let them pressure you into buying before you’re certain it’s what you want.
· Check out the competition – You may have a garage that you ‘always go to’ but it really can pay off if you shop around.
· Go further afield – Don’t be afraid to travel further afield for a better price. Tell each garage you’re shopping around and if you fancy one car but prefer the other car’s price, tell the dealer – you might get them to come down on price.
AA Consumer Panel Survey: 26,199 respondents
I will definitely buy a new car next year
I might buy a new car next year
I will definitely buy a second-hand car next year
I might buy a second-hand car next year
I will definitely not be changing my car next year
I’m not sure
Doesn’t apply to me