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Weak sterling boosts Irish demand for UK car imports by 20%

Brexit jigsaw

Irish car dealers have increased spending on UK used car imports by 20% during the first half of 2018 year-on-year, due to eight months of a steady rise of the Euro against the Pound.

The data has come from Fexco Corporate Payments, the foreign exchange specialist, that analysed 3,000 transactions going through its system.

When compared to the levels recorded in the first half of 2016 – before the UK’s vote to the leave the EU – the combined spend of individual motorists and Irish car dealers is up by two thirds (66%).

These figures comes just days after the Euro hit 89.5p against sterling – its highest level for almost eight months.

Spending on UK imports by Irish car dealers and individual car buyers combined rose by 14% in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017.

Traditionally, the red tape required to import a UK-registered car had put off all but professional dealers and dedicated motorists, but sterling’s weakness has tipped the balance.

Fexco also recorded a 49% increase in the number of cross-border car purchases - made by both dealers and motorists - between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2018.

The Fexco data mirrors official statistics compiled by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

In the first six months of 2018 it registered 49,971 used cars imported from the UK, a 12% increase on the same period in 2017. There has been a 64% increase on the pre-referendum level seen in the first half of 2016.

The SIMI data also suggests Ireland is on track to import 100,000 used cars from the UK for the first time ever this year. It predicts that used car imports will rise by 15% in 2018, with new car registrations falling 8.6% on their 2017 levels.

David Lamb, head of dealing at Fexco Corporate Payments, said: “On a purchase as large as a car, exchange rates can be a dealmaker or a dealbreaker.

“Two years on from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, thousands of Irish car buyers – both individuals and garages – are still capitalising on the weak Pound.

“The UK has a much greater supply of used cars than Ireland, so all things being equal, a British used car should cost less than a similar model on this side of the Irish Sea.”

Cork-based Keary Motor Group is one franchised dealer group which has been able to expand on the back of the increased margins now promised by imported used cars from the UK.

Managing director Bill Keary told AM: “Brexit has affected the Irish market in that there are a lot of cars now coming in from the UK.

“I have opened a support business for the imported cars that we bring in.

“In Cork we have recently opened our Car Store used car supermarket and in the last month we have announced that we will be opening our biggest car supermarket to date, in Dublin.

“Last year we imported around 1,000 cars from the UK and this year that figure will rise to over 3,000. That’s half of the 6,000 used vehicles that we expect to sell.”

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