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Car market is steady despite Brexit fears

CAR dealers in Cork say the market is holding strong, despite concerns about Brexit.

Industry experts had warned that the market uncertainty caused by the vote could result in a slow down in sales in 2017.

However, local dealers are bucking the trend, matching the heights reached last year, according to Brendan Keary of Keary Motors.

"It's steady, or maybe even up 1%," he said.

"We would definitely have taken that last October or November when all the uncertainty over Brexit was hitting the market."

In fact, activity has actually been increasing as January progressed, he said.

"Last Saturday was our busiest Saturday in two years. It has been getting very busy in the last few weeks."

He credits the PCP finance deals as driving interest in the market.

"People want low monthly payments, low APR and fuel efficient cars - that's all available to them now," he said.

In 2016, interest in SUVs surged, while saloon and family cars trailed off.

So far this year, Mr Keary said the trend has reversed as many look at the new models of saloon available from most major manufacturers.

The van sector remains very strong too, increasing by as much as 8% nationally.

One brand which has not done well so far this year is BMW, though Mr Keary said this will change by March.

"The new 5 Series is coming in March and there is huge interest so far. I think that March will be as good as most Januarys for BMW."

There are still no signs of growth when it comes to electric cars either.

Despite some industry professionals anticipating that electric cars would surge in popularity, the numbers sold nationally in 2016 actually declined from 2015 levels.

However, Mr Keary is predicting an increase in interest this year with the arrival of some new models.

"The first batch of Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe are coming to an end with newer models coming later this year.

"The new Zoe, for example, can do 300km instead of 150km like the current model. That will be a game-changer, I think."

The arrival of Tesla to Ireland later this year is also likely to result in some additional interest in the sector.