New cars registrations for January are down 17.8% when compared to the same month last year, the latest figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry show.

The latest SIMI figures show that new car registrations fell to 25,191 in January of this year from 30,650 in January 2020. 

According to SIMI, light commercial vehicles sales are down 10.9% to 5,033 from 5,647 last year, while HGV (heavy goods vehicle) registrations also showed a decrease of 4.5% with sales down to 340 compared to 356 in the first month of 2020. 

But used car imports saw a 3.1% increase in January.

Despite a decline in market share, SIMI said that diesel continued to remain the most popular engine type in January (35.85%), followed by petrol (34.70%).

Hybrid cars (19.12%) gained a significant increase, along with growth of plug-in hybrid (4.23%) and electric (3.89%) market share.

New electric car registrations increased with 980 registered in January 2021, compared to 891 January 2020, SIMI said.

The SIMI figures show that the top selling car in January was the Hyundai Tucson.

The ten top selling car brands in January were Toyota, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Ford, Skoda, Nissan, Kia, Peugeot, Renault and Seat.

It also said that the ten top car models in January were the Hyundai Tucson, the Toyota Corolla, the Toyota Rav 4, the Ford Focus, the Toyota Yaris, the Toyota C-HR 7, the Skoda Octavia, the Volkswagen Golf, the Hyundai Kona and the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Tom Cullen, SIMI's Deputy Director General, said that new car registrations are down 17.8% on January 2020, the fifth consecutive January that new car sales have fallen.

However, he said that this year's registrations must be seen in the context of the pandemic and associated restrictions. 

Mr Cullen said that strong pre-orders coming into the New Year and the ability of the industry to provide both on-line shopping and a click and deliver service, has mitigated somewhat against the full impact of the pandemic in January. 

"On a positive note, despite the fall in new cars sales both Electric Vehicles and PHEVS are ahead of last January, and with more models and supply coming on stream as the year progresses, it is anticipated that this growth will continue," Tom Cullen said. 

"It is vital for society and business that the current restrictions succeed in driving down the incidence of Covid and with the delivery of Covid vaccines, we hope that business can return to more normal levels once the health situation allows," he said. 

"In the meantime, to protect long term employment and local businesses, it is essential that the current Government business and employee supports remain in place," he added.