With some city dealerships laying off sales representatives and introducing 10 per cent pay-cuts among staff that have been retained, the slowdown in car sales is now firmly taking root.

Business along the ‘Motor Mile’ has dramatically dipped over the past six months, and even with January beckoning – traditionally the busiest time of year of dealerships, local optimism is hard to come by.

Nationally, new cars sold during November (644) was down 55.92 per cent on November 2007 (1416), while sales for the first 11 months of the year (151,426) were 18.63 per cent down on the same period in 2007 (186,096).

The figures, released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) on Monday reflect the extent of the decline in the market; worrying times indeed, according to SIMI Director General Alan Nolan.

“The publication of these figures along with new car sales predictions for next year, means that many employees within the motor industry are uncertain about their future,” he said.

“We are an industry employing more than 50,000 people and are a significant contributor to the exchequer each year. However, further job losses are inevitable unless positive measures are introduced in order to protect these jobs and stimulate business.”

Mr Nolan added: “Like many industries, we must be positive in our thinking and adapt to the current economic situation. There are still customers wanting to buy and cars to be sold and still great value to be had.”

In a bid to stimulate the market, SIMI has called for the introduction of a scrappage scheme, similar to the one introduced in the mid-90s.

The body believes that replacing older cars with cleaner, new models will boost sales and increase revenue for the State.

Alan Nolan commented: “A scrappage scheme will be a win-win situation for all. In these uncertain times we are trying to be positive and proactive and we hope to get the support of government to introduce this measure in the New Year. A scrappage scheme would not cost the government but in fact increase revenue for the State.”