Be it caused by the economic downturn or be it down to the Green Party (as claimed by Bill Cullen), one thing is certain: the motor industry is facing into uncertain times.
And the level of difficulty being experienced in Waterford city has been starkly illustrated by the May ’09 sales figures just published by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).
While the overall national picture showed a 49.75 per cent decline in new vehicle registrations, Waterford city dealers fared considerably worse.
A total of just 42 new registrations were recorded in the city, representing an 80 per drop on the same month last year, when 210 were sold.
In fact, the city decline was the largest single slide across any of SIMI’s identified 29 areas in the State when compared to May ’08.
Meanwhile, County Waterford dealers registered 35 new vehicles last month, representing a 68.18 per cent decline in sales from May 2008.
Nationally, new car registrations for May ’09 came to 5,118, in comparison to 10,133 for the same month last year.
“The figures are in line with our predictions and while there is no marked improvement in sales, there does at least appear to be a bottoming-out at this stage,” according to SIMI Director General Alan Nolan.
“Having experienced the results of investing significant funding in over-risky property development, it would appear that the banks have become averse to supporting normal business trading.
“If this is not addressed immediately, the economy will just grind to a halt and in the case of the motor industry, which last year provided €1.5 billion to the State, thousands more jobs, county-wide will be lost.”
Speaking to The Munster Express recently, Bill Cullen laid the decline in the motor industry squarely on the shoulders of the Green Party.
“It’s very hard to make things better when the Greens have collapsed an entire industry,” according to ‘The Apprentice’ star.
“The Greens have collapsed our industry by reducing the VRT on cars that had low emissions when they didn’t have to…
“The motor industry is down 70 per cent; finance companies are not providing finance really for cars, you have to have 50 to 60 per cent of a deposit whereas you used to get 100 per cent so that’s all stopping the industry.
“Seventy per cent is an unsustainable drop in our business and you’ll see lots more motor traders closing up while the ones that survive will do okay.”
Reacting to the figures, industry insiders asserted that Waterford car dealers have consistently ‘punched above their weight’, suggesting that the doughtier city business will ride out the current market storm.