February 9, 2015 / 12:36 PM / 3 years ago

Irish car sales soar in January as recovery broadens

DUBLIN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Car sales in Ireland rose by 26 percent year-on-year in January and the number of new commercial vehicles sold almost doubled, in the latest sign that the country's economic recovery is broadening.

Ireland forecasts that its economy grew by almost 5 percent in 2014, probably the fastest in the European Union. Data released so far in 2015 has shown growth may be less reliant on strong exports this year, with unemployment falling, tax receipts soaring and strong services and manufacturing growth.

Just over 20,000 cars were sold in January -- traditionally the strongest month for car sales as consumers flock to buy cars with updated registration plates -- compared to around 16,000 a year ago and almost double the number sold in January 2013.

New car sales last year were the highest since 2008, when Ireland was hit by a crippling fiscal and banking crisis.

Sales of new goods vehicles rose 47.5 percent in January, an indication that businesses are feeling confident enough to invest after a strong Christmas period saw the state take in 225 million euros or 13 percent more in sales tax in December.

Car sales in Europe rose 5.7 percent in 2014, thanks to government incentives, tax breaks and a consumer shift to cheaper brands that helped the market return to growth after six consecutive years of declining sales. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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