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Why was the number plate changed?

To address the serious problem of seasonality in the Motor Industry in Ireland.

How seasonal is the Motor Industry?

80% of new cars are sold in the first half of the year. 53% in the first quarter but only 6% in the last quarter. At its peak, close to 50,000 people worked in the Motor Industry in Ireland, now that has dropped to 37,000, with the downturn in vehicle sales and the overall economy.

Why is seasonality such a problem?

New car sales have a direct impact on employment; the more cars are sold, the more staff are required to prepare them, sell them, service them etc. Car sales have become even more seasonal in recent years and with that, jobs have too. Many dealers take on extra staff for the busy first quarter of the year but are then forced to let the same staff go in the second half of the year because there is so little activity. Also, with such a front-loading of sales, there is huge financial pressure put on car dealers in the first quarter of the year and cash flow is serious problem. 89% of car dealers make a loss in the last quarter of the year. In addition, with most cars registered in January, there is a backlog at NCT centres at the start of the year.

What will the new format be?

From January to June of this year, all new cars will have the number plate 131-D-123. From July to December all new cars will have the plate 132-D-123. The ‘1’ after the year represents the first half of the year, the ‘2’ represents the second half.

Is the change just for this year?

No. This will be the new format going forward so next year the plate will read 141-D-123 and 142-D-123 and the following year will be 151-D-123 and 152-D-123 and so on

Isn’t this all to do with superstition? Fear of the number 13?

No. For 5 years the SIMI has been calling on the Government to change the number plate system. It is only this year that the Government decided to bring it in. The number 13 is still on the plate. The new format will take effect every year from now on, not just for 2013.

What’s good about the new number plate?

  1. Jobs will be better protected. With sales spread more evenly through the year, it brings more stability to employment. Every lost job costs the Exchequer €23,000 so this will benefit the wider economy.
  2. A car bought in the second half of the year will be valued more than a car bought in the first half of the year as it will be newer.
  3. It gives people, who put off buying a car at the start of the year, a second chance to purchase
  4. There won’t be such a shortage of used cars at the end of the year, with dealers taking in a lot of trade ins in January and also July
  5. NCT tests will be spread more evenly throughout the year reducing the backlog at the start of the year

Why has the government brought it in, what benefit is it to them?

The Motor Industry is a significant contributor the the Exchequer and for every new car sold the Government benefits in tax collected. So an increase in sales means increased revenue for the Government. In addition, with more jobs in the industry protected, the Government saves on social welfare payments, PRSI etc to the tune of €23,000 per person.

Will the new plate increase vehicle sales?

In other countries where a new number plate was introduced, for example the Netherlands, they saw an increase in sales when a new plate was introduced. Research shows a change to a number plate could increase sales by 4% in it’s first year of introduction.

Will there be enough room on the plate for an extra digit?

Yes. Because of the split in the year, this will not be a problem

Will the change affect the trade-in value of my car?

If you purchase a car between January and July with the registration 131 and trade it in some time later there could be greater value placed on a 131 plate than a 13 plate as there will be fewer sold and there will be greater demand in a few years time. If you purchase a car in the second half of the year, it will obviously be valued greater than the 131 car you may have purchased in the first half of the year, as it is newer.