2023 car registrations what are the stats really telling us

October 09, 2023
2023 car registrations what are the stats really telling us
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To get the true story you often have to look beyond the headlines. The conventional theory is that electric car sales are running at unprecedented levels. We are fast heading to an EV dominated car parc and that Telsa will one day be the dominant brand. But is this really supported by the stats? 


On the face of it, new EV sales are impressive. 21,704 new pure EV cars have been registered this year, some 47% up on 2022. It is indeed rapid growth, but you need to consider that 96,653 petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid new cars have been sold in the same time, meaning cars with some form of internal combustion engine still account for 81.66% of the market. This shows that EVs are still a long way off market dominance, even in terms of new cars sales at the present time. 

It is also worth pointing out that year on year, growth in EV registrations is actually slowing, perhaps as the early adopter market is exhausted. 2020 to 2021 EV registrations showed a 115% increase and in 2021 to 2022 this was an 86% increase. The fall of 47% perhaps shows that convincing the more die hard petrol and diesel drivers to go electric will not be so easy. 

A further point to consider is that when it comes to total registrations, new cars are only part of the story. Although post Brexit, UK imports are significantly down, so far this year imports have still accounted for some 38,339 registrations, or the equivalent of 32% of new registrations. Take a look at the models being imported and you can quickly see that Japanese imports are also once again a significant factor. 

As you may expect, pure EVs play a less significant role in used imports, accounting for only 4% of cars registered. Indeed if you add together imports and new registrations, the total for the year to date is 156,595 and EVs represent only 15% of this figure. 

It is also interesting to note that pure petrol and diesel imports (excluding hybrids) so far this year are 28,527units, 6,823 more than total new EV registrations. The independent garage sector in Ireland is far more likely to be working on these imported models in the next five to ten years than the shiny new EVs, which will mainly stick with their dealer networks. 

As for the theory that Tesla is the brand that is taking the market by storm, the figures tell a different story. Year to date Telsa new registrations stand at 2,964, an impressive 128% up on last year and putting the brand ahead of marques such as Mercedes and Opel. However, it is worth noting that rising stars, with an EV emphasis, such as MG and Cupra are showing faster growth. Year to date Cupra registrations are 1,629, 165% up on last year and MG 1,609, 223% up on last year. 

It is also worth noting the performance of Chinese car maker BYD, which has gone from zero to 455 registrations so far this year and could well be up with Tesla in two or three years time.  

Again in aftermarket terms, these figures need some context. The top imported used cars so far this year are: VW Golf 3,018 units, VW Polo 2,217 units, Audi A3 1,372 units and the Japanese import the Honda Fit 1,360 units. By comparison with new registration models, the fourth best-selling new car was the Yaris Cross with sales of 2,987 units. 

These imports coming in, offer huge potential for the independent aftermarket. They are usually out of warranty and are often in need of early maintenance. So far this year 7,387 VWs have been imported, 4,045 Audis, 3,704 BMWs, 3,597 Toyotas and 2,851Nissans, compared to only 2,964 new Teslas registered. While planning ahead for future EV work may be prudent, these imports and the rest of the ICE car parc, are the vehicles that garages are working on right now and is where the bulk of their concentration should still lie.  
 
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