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5 Key Questions for Car Buyers in 2021

Car 5 min read

28 Jan 2021

4WheelGuide: Your roadmap to buying a new or used car 

Buying a car is a significant purchase no matter what your budget, and it pays to do your homework before making any decisions especially now as there are additional factors to consider with Brexit, Covid-19, and whether to go green.
If you’re unsure where to start on your car search, don’t worry. As part of our 4WheelGuide series we’ve teamed up with theJournal.ie and the Belfast Telegraph and put 5 burning car buyers’ questions to the experts.


1. Do Brexit and Covid-19 mean now is a bad time to buy a used car?

New car sales in the Rep. of Ireland dipped by 25% last year compared to 2019, and used imports from the UK plummeted by over 33,000 (around 30%) too, according to DoneDeal’s latest Motor Industry Review. All in all, used car supply is low.

Car sales figures in Northern Ireland for the year to September 2020 were twice as low as the decline seen in 2008, at 34.6%, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures show, which will also reduce the flow of stock into the NI used car market.

So does that mean buying second hand is a bad idea? Not necessarily. If you like the idea of changing your car again in a year or two, then a used car could be a smart investment right now, says Rob Hume, General Manager of DoneDeal:

Now that Brexit has actually happened, UK imports will drop even further… This loss of supply will keep used values strong in 2021 and likely 2022. Irrespective of the age of the car, it’s not a bad time to buy used.”

But if you have your heart set on a premium used car with only a couple of years of use, you might find that the price isn’t far off a brand new model, due to 2020′s dip in car sales:

“Fewer nearly new cars are in circulation right now. The price gap between nearly new cars and brand new cars is closing…. so some consumers are seeing the value in making the leap to brand new vehicles.”
For Northern Irish car buyers, Northern Ireland car dealers have been assured that VAT will now not be applied to the purchase price of vehicles moved from Great Britain to NI. It was feared that Brexit-related changes would mean it would be more expensive for NI car dealers to source second-hand vehicles from GB. 


2. Should I buy an electric car in 2021 or wait a bit longer?

When Sean Finn launched his used electric car dealership, Ecocars, in 2013, the range of electric vehicles (EVs) available for Irish buyers was incredibly limited. The tech was fairly basic too, but all of that has changed for the buyer of 2021. Finn explains:
“At the beginning, the Nissan Leaf was the most popular electric car… it only had an average range of 100km. Today the average EV will do about 350km per charge and some will do much more.”
More competition in the market and a range of SEAI grants means that buying a new or used EV is fairly cost effective. But despite all the plus points, going ‘full electric’ won’t suit every buyer out there, at least not yet.
In Northern Ireland, the government is offering grants of up to £3,000 towards the purchase of approved low-emission vehicles. To be eligible for the grant, cars must cost less than £50,000. This is the recommended retail price (RRP), and includes VAT and delivery fees. You can also get up to £350 (including VAT) off the cost of installing a charger at home through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.

You can save up to 80% annually on fuel costs by switching to electric vehicles so don’t forget to factor that in too as well as your driver needs, where you live, the mileage that you drive, and of course the environmental benefits. Why not check out our blog which tells you how much you might save?


3. I want to buy a used car. What are the best second-hand cars to keep an eye out for?

Now is a popular time of year for trade-ins, and while we already know supply is more limited this year, there are still some great value used cars to be found. Dave Humphreys, Road Test Editor with Complete Car, shares two models that won’t let you down…
“If you’re looking to pick up a relatively new crossover, the Skoda Karoq makes for a sensible buy. It has good looks, and while it isn’t massive overall, there are generous amounts of space inside, making it suitable for smaller families.”
“Another talented family car is the Kia Ceed, which in its current guise came out in 2018, and made a big improvement over its predecessor. Many of these will also still be under Kia’s seven-year/150,000 km warranty too, so that should help keep maintenance costs down.”
The number one best-selling new car in Northern Ireland in 2020 was the Ford Focus, closely followed by the VW Golf in second place with the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Tucson, and Nissan Qashqai coming in 3rd to fifth place respectively. In the UK, vehicle registration plates change twice a year, in March and in September. Towards the end of those 2 months, dealers can find themselves with a lot of used cars that they need to shift. The end of February and August can also be a good time to get a good price because that is when the dealers will need to make room for the new cars.


4. I want to buy a new car. What’s the best family car to check out?

The classic hatchback is still the most popular car type in the Irish market, accounting for 30% of sales in 2020, according to DoneDeal. Citroen’s C4 hatchback/SUV launches in the coming few months in both markets, and gets Humphreys’ pick for the best new family buy in 2021.

The all-new C4 is a stylish and sporty crossover with decent space inside, plus one of the most comfortable suspension setups in the business. It should also be keenly priced, making it one to consider this year.

For more information on what we think are the best family cars why not check out our dedicated blog here.


5. What are some really handy tech features to look out for in a new car?

Enhanced safety requirements for Euro NCAP testing mean that the majority of new cars now have features like emergency braking and lane assistance as standard. So safety tech aside, what are some other smart features manufacturers are adding to set their models apart from the competition?

“Years ago, ‘tech’ meant aircon and Bluetooth. Now it’s possible to genuinely communicate with your car,” says Jamie O’Callaghan, Sales Manager at Blackwater Motors in Fermoy, Co Cork. He uses Volkswagen’s WeConnect app as an example:

“At any time, you can see where you’ve parked your car, if all the doors are locked, if the windows are closed, how much fuel you have, and if it’s an EV you can see how much range you have.”
V2X, or vehicle-to-everything communication, has been on manufacturers’ radars for a few years now, but O’Callaghan says we can expect to see more of it in the next 12 months and beyond. 
“It allows cars to speak to one another. If one car is up the road stuck in a huge traffic jam, it’ll notify all other nearby cars of the same make or model, meaning they’ll know to take other routes.”
So if you’re in the market for a car loan why not contact your local credit union who will come back to you with details on the interest rates they currently offer? Alternatively, to see what the average car loan rate will cost you – check out our handy loan calculator
Keep an eye out for #4WheelGuide across FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for more great advice on budgeting, choosing and buying your car as well as design and style ideas and inspiring stories – so you can gear up for the car of your dreams.