Motor sector to drive hybrid showroom/digital sales model

Podcast Ep 64: Ireland’s motor sector is opening its showrooms in time for the pivotal H2 sales season in July but may keep some of the digital expertise gained during Covid, says Bank of Ireland’s head of Motor Sector Stephen Healy.

In the first four months of 2021 the Irish motor sector sold 70,000 new cars and commercial vehicles in spite of level 5 restrictions, Healy reported in his latest Motor Sector News.

This is a strong performance when you consider new car passenger registrations ran at 75pc of registrations in the first four months of 2019.

“The message is to engage early with your local motor dealer to ensure you get the car of your dreams”

New van sales are almost 7pc of the same period in 2019, due to increased demand for delivery vehicles.

Driving better deals


Speaking with ThinkBusiness, Healy said that click and deliver sales played a key role in the January to April quarter and said that the performance of the sector was great news in advance of the second sales peak in July when car buyers vie for the coveted “212” plate.

“Under level 5 restrictions, dealers engaged remotely over WhatsApp and cars were then delivered remotely.”

He said the online sales model actually helped dealers to zero in more effectively on genuine purchasers, avoiding a traditional situation where genuine buyers may hang around in a busy showroom.

“If customers are vetted in advance, there’s a greater likelihood of closing the customer serious about buying.”

And while dealers are excited about opening their showrooms once again as lockdown restrictions lift in Ireland, many are convinced about the future of digital and are considering hybrid models for reopening.

But ultimately, the in-person experience will always be crucial for dealers. “Consumers will want to get back to showrooms to touch and test drive and collect their new cars. Dealers are experts in the handover experience and running through all the features and controls on collection.

“The delivery option may work for those who strike deals remotely, perhaps in another part of the country. Looking forward though, the vetting work will mean that deals can be struck prior to coming to the dealer.

“Digital solutions also mean that a customer could remotely sign finance documentation prior to collection. That means the customer experience could be enhanced on the day they collect the car. It’s all about the car experience – whether new or used – on the day of collection rather than focusing on paperwork.”

As Ireland reopens, expectations are that July could be 25pc to 30pc higher than last year. Traditionally 70pc of new car sales are done in the first half of the year, but this has been no ordinary year.

“For those fortunate to keep their jobs, there has been a huge uptick in personal savings. We would expect that there will be a big increase in demand for new and used cars.

“The message is to engage early with your local motor dealer to ensure you get the car of your dreams,” Healy concluded.

By John Kennedy (

Published: 2 June 2021