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Best quarter for car sales since 2008

Figures just released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry for vehicle sales for the first quarter of this year show that new car sales are up by 26% on last year. At almost 50,000 cars sold, the first quarter of this year has outperformed all other periods since 2008. Sales in March are up 23%, reflecting a continuation of the consumer confidence that has been apparent since the start of the year. The Commercial Vehicle market is also positive, with light commercial/van sales up 43% this quarter and up 45% in March alone. Heavy commercial/truck sales are up 40% so far this year and 31% in March alone. Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General commented “Vehicle sales for the first quarter of 2014 remain significantly ahead of last year. Already we have registered over two thirds of total car sales for last year. We are clearly starting from a low base but the most notable point has been the …

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UK truck tax ‘discriminatory’ – Higgins

IRELAND’S  representative on the European Parliament Transport Committee, MEP Jim Higgins has today called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to do “whatever it takes” to ensure that the new UK truck tax which he described as “discriminatory” does not come into effect on April 1.  “I have discussed the matter with Leo Varadkar over the past number of months, and he has been successful in getting small sections of the A3 near Clones exempted, but it is not enough. The Taoiseach now needs to tell the UK that the charge is going to hurt Irish hauliers, and furthermore that it is discriminatory. The Government should examine the possibility of lodging a complaint with the European Commission on the grounds of discrimination, since the tax will affect Republic of Ireland registered trucks, but not NI registered trucks.” “The Government has to send a clear unambiguous signal to London that this kind of discrimination is not acceptable.”   “We need a proper solution …

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The SEAT Leon Cupra in the hills near Montserrat.

Olé, Olé, Leon

Barcelona may not be the first place you think of when it comes to cars, but the city is home to the giant Martorell plant, which for a long time has been producing SEAT cars. Since 1986, Seat have been majority owned by the Volkswagen group, although during our trip to the factory, the personnel there were anxious to point out that they had a proper research and development department, fully capable of designing a car from scratch and bringing it to production. In fact, the Martorell plant develops entire cars, including the Audi Q5 and whole subsystems for other marques in the group and employ over 1,000 people. We visited the design centre and were met at the gate by a couple of guards who asked us for our phones. They proceeded to put stickers over our camera lenses so that we couldn’t take pictures. Sorry lads, I had a proper camera and a fully functional tablet in my …

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Grainne rallying round despite brain injury

AN Ennis rally co-driver has outlined her delight at having taken part in a 10k charity walk last weekend, just 18 months after a freak accident left her battling for her life. Grainne McEnery said completing Hurley Hoey walk was a massive confidence boost and compared it to “winning the lottery”. She never dreamed she would be capable of finishing two kilometres, having sustained a serious brain injury. “Finishing a 10km was like a dream come true. I walked it in one hour and 40 minutes. When I crossed the finish line I was emotional because it was like I won it. I never thought I would be able to do this. Acquired brain injury has given her a new insight of the challenges other people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Grainne was a passenger in a rally car driven by Mike Quinn from Kerry, which was leading going in the last stage at the Heartlands Rally in …

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The third generation Audi TT made its debut at Geneva.

Air of optimism at Geneva Motor Show

There was a huge amount of new metal at this year’s Geneva Show but no real standout star. Everyone I talked to seemed very bullish about prospects for the new car market this year and there was a palpable sense of optimism in the air, which was a very pleasant change. One of the more significant launches wasn’t even of a car. Apple choose Geneva to launch their new CarPlay system. It’s essentially a very advanced link between your phone and your car and it allows the phone to take over the car’s display and be controlled by the car’s buttons or by voice. As it evolves, it will become the most natural way to interact with your phone while driving. CarPlay is an operating system that can be applied to any iPhone that can run iOS 7 or later and is equipped with a lightning interface – essentially iPhone 5 or later. Right now, the system has been launched …

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Car sales in Clare are well up on last year.

New car sales in Clare up 35% on last year

FIGURES  just released by the SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) show that so far this year, new car sales in Clare are up by 35%. Nationally, sales are up 28%. The confidence evident in January has continued into February with a 21% increase in car sales. The light commercial vehicle market, which is a good sign of activity in the SME sector, saw an increase in sales of 41% in February with sales of Heavy Goods Vehicles, often a barometer of activity in the wider Economy, seeing a 68% increase. Alan Nolan, SIMI Director General commented “The Motor Industry is often the first to be affected when there’s a downturn and one of the first to come back when the economy improves. Dealers are undoubtedly seeing a lot more confidence among consumers, many of whom have been putting off making large purchases over the last few years. Feedback from dealers confirms that footfall and sales enquiries are holding …

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Many motorists have experienced flooding in recent weeks.

Don’t buy a flooded car

With floods affecting many areas of Ireland over recent weeks, motorists looking to buy a used car should be mindful of checking potential purchases carefully for any potential water damage before parting with their cash. Tim Naylor, editor of British Car Auction’s annual Used Car Market Report commented “Potentially hundreds if not thousands of cars will have been damaged in the floods and many will have been written off because of the cost of repairing electrical components, interior fittings and catalytic convertors. Rather than claim against insurance, some unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off their cars in a private sale, so buyers should be aware of the tell-tale signs.” “Even the most scrupulous valet may not totally eradicate water damage, so be a ‘flood detective’ when appraising a potential purchase. Screws, bolts and fixings may well rust, so check out-of-the-way areas under the dash, seats, door sills and engine bay. Look for fine silt deposits in spots like the …

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European Commission to examine HGV proposal

THE  new changes proposed by the UK government, which would significantly affect the competitiveness of Irish hauliers, are to be examined by the European Commission. Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who raised the issue of proposed cross border charges for HGVs exceeding 12 tonnes weight, to be levied from April 2014, has been told by the Commission that they will assess the charges to ensure that they do not breach EU rules. She said,“The planned Road User Charge for Heavy Goods Vehicles is directed at non UK mainland Europe hauliers who , due to their cost structures, can  undercut UK hauliers for business in and out of the UK.    However, the measure poses serious problems for Irish hauliers and especially those in the border areas who have to cross the border with Northern Ireland.  These charges raise significant problems, especially for border hauliers and, if implemented, will seriously affect business and employment.   I am hopeful that the European Commission, having assessed …

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