6 Things We Learned About Irish Drivers in 2018 – Stats Roundup

Posted on Friday 18 January 2019 by CarTakeBack

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As we kick off 2019, we can now look back on how the motoring industry in the Republic of Ireland has changed in the last year. In 2018, we have seen some big shifts in the motoring industry, while some trends have continued fairly soundly.

Welcome to our 2018 Irish car stats roundup, where we will be looking at 6 things we have learned about Irish drivers in the last year – plus some additional factoids!

1.   We are buying FEWER cars than before

Between 2017 and 2018, the Republic of Ireland has seen a sizeable drop of 4.4% in total car registrations. 4.4% may not seem like much, but this equates to nearly 5,800 fewer vehicle registrations in total.

According to the Independent, the average price of a car insurance premium has surged by 60% since 2010, and the cost of motoring is showing no signs of decreasing. It is claimed that many are being deterred from driving by these increased costs, especially young drivers and learners. It seems many are choosing to scrap their old cars in favour of public transport.

2.   The emissions scandal still hasn’t harmed Volkswagen

That’s right, despite the huge emissions scandal of 2015 and subsequent PR nightmare, Volkswagen remains the most popular car manufacturer in the Republic of Ireland. The German giants enjoyed a leading 10.9% share of total car registrations in 2018, ahead of Toyota (9.59%) and Hyundai (9.27%).

Volkswagen have seen a slight drop of 0.4% in total registrations since 2017, but this is nothing compared to the big drops seen by Toyota (-5%), Ford (-7.8%) and Renault (-13.8%). 

It seems Ireland still holds Volkswagen in very high esteem!

3.   When we do buy, we’re buying BIGGER

Are the days of smaller “a-to-b” motors in decline? Sales of traditional city hatchbacks are down by 8% since 2017, which suggests they are! This could also be related to the number of young or learner drivers who have been put off by rising costs.

We’ve also seen a huge 28% decrease in new saloon registrations, and a 13% drop in estates. Conversely, registrations of Jeeps have leapt by 32%, while family sized MPVs are up by nearly 7%. It seems that when we are buying, we are buying bigger, despite increased motoring costs.

4.   We’re more eco-friendly!

Environmental concerns are in the news almost every day, as climate change takes centre stage in global conversations, from politicians to everyday folk. It seems the increased awareness of eco-friendly alternatives (in addition to last year’s news that new diesel motors will be discontinued here in 2030), have driven further change in our car buying.

For starters, diesel car registrations are down a huge 20% since 2017. Of course, it was reported towards the end of 2017 that diesel drivers could face tax increases of up to €140 a year, which many will have seen as a solid reason to ditch the diesel in 2018. Regardless, a 20% drop in one year is massive. 

In addition to this, electric car registrations have seen a huge increase of 98%, as awareness in electric models grows, as does the selection available to buy. It seems eco-friendly driving has a strong future in Ireland.

5.   The white van business is as strong as ever

Despite an overall decline in vehicle registrations, white van, or light commercial vehicle, registrations have seen an encouraging increase of 5.5% since 2017. This suggests that things are looking optimistic for commercial enterprises and independent tradespeople who are continuing to invest in their transport. 

As usual, Ford models are leading the way, with registration increases of 15.5% for the Transit Connect and 19% for the Transit Custom Commercial.

6.   Premium German saloons aren’t as popular anymore

2018 has been a good year for Volkswagen in the Republic of Ireland; however, VW’s premium compatriots have seen registrations decline quite significantly between 2017 and 2018.

BMW has seen a 7% drop in registrations, while Audi have seen registrations decline by 11%. Mercedes-Benz have seen the biggest drop of the German heavyweights, though, with 14% fewer registrations in 2018. 

This may not be a sign of long-term difficulties for the German executive giants, but it will be interesting to see if they can bounce back in 2019.

Other interesting car stats for 2018

What are the most popular car makes in Ireland?

In 2018 in the Republic of Ireland, the most popular car makes were the following:

  1. Volkswagen – 13,774 registrations (10.97% share)
  2. Toyota – 12,037 registrations (9.59% share)
  3. Hyundai – 11,633 registrations (9.27% share)
  4. Ford – 11,228 registrations (8.99% share)
  5. Nissan – 9,701 registrations (7.73% share)
  6. Skoda – 9,116 registrations (7.26% share)
  7. Kia – 7.326 registrations (5.83% share)
  8. Renault – 7,176 registrations (5.72% share)
  9. Peugeot – 5,596 registrations (4.46% share)
  10. Audi – 4,919 registrations (3.92% share)

Which was the most popular car model in Ireland in 2018?

The car model with the most registrations in the Republic of Ireland in 2018 was the Hyundai Tucson, with 4,026 units registered. This was followed very closely by the Nissan Qashqai, which saw 4,004 registrations.

What is the most popular car colour in Ireland?

Grey (which also includes metallic, or silver) has long been the most popular car colour in the Republic of Ireland, and this has continued into 2018. A massive 38% of all car registrations in 2018 were grey; that’s 47,724 grey cars. It may not be the most exciting colour to some, but its popularity seems to be unbending. 

On the flip-side, flashier orange cars have seen a 216% increase – though overall numbers are still small!

Are manual or automatic cars more popular in Ireland?

There were significantly more manual cars registered in 2018 than automatic, with 93,698 manual cars compared with 31,776 automatics. However, it seems this is balance is shifting as manual cars saw an 8.4% decline since 2017, compared with a 9.5% increase in automatics.

Which Irish county bought the most cars?

County Dublin, unsurprisingly, saw the most car registrations in 2018, with 52,671 cars registered. That’s a 41.9% share of all cars registered in Ireland. In second place is Cork, with 15,223 new units registered, a 12% share. 

When do we buy the most cars in Ireland?

In 2018, Irish people registered the most cars in the months of January, with 37,023 registrations, and July with 26,888. Other busy months include February and March, with around 17,000 registrations each in 2018.

How many Teslas are sold in Ireland?

Tesla, the standard bearer of the electric motor, has unsurprisingly seen a big jump in popularity in 2018, with 135% more registrations than 2017. The numbers are still low, with 120 registrations in total last year, but we predict this number will only increase as awareness and availability grows. 


Stats have been provided by MotorStats – the official statistics of the Irish Motor Industry.