The strength of the euro against the pound saw motorists accelerate spending on UK car imports last year. 2018 saw used imports reach a record high.

The number of UK vehicles imported by individuals rose by 18% on the previous year, and the average amount each buyer spent rose by a third, according to the findings of new data released today by foreign exchange specialist Fexco Corporate Payments.

Ruth McCarthy, CEO of Fexco Corporate Payments, said motorists are getting access to a much broader market of cars which is "a really big influencer". She said the foreign exchange rate is really what is driving Irish motorists to the UK in the last year.

"If you look at the euro/pound exchange rate in 2015 it was around 72 pence, and in 2018, it was around 88.5 pence, so you are getting much better bang for your buck so to speak," she said.

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Fexco saw an increase in volumes from car dealers almost as soon as sterling started to look weak, and now they are seeing the average Irish motorist taking advantage of exchange rates in much larger numbers. 

"We saw a 59% increase in spend from 2017 to 2018 by Irish consumers on cars bought from the UK. That's a very significant increase in just one year," Ms McCarthy said.

In the last year, the spend has gone up by about €5,400 per vehicle. That is a 34% increase in the average transaction, which is a sign of consumer confidence. "At the same time, these are second hand vehicles and the average price is a little bit depressed relative to new vehicles," Ms McCarthy said.

Are people capitalising now, or do they still have a chance to capitalise on weaker sterling in future?
The Fexco boss said this is the crystal ball question. "I think the big thing for consumers now is that they want to lock in the rate that is available today. We'll all be watching the media to see how Brexit goes but that's our key influencer for exchange rates and it's anyone's guess how that is going to go."