On St. Patrick's Day, it's nice to know the auto industry in Ireland is cruising in the fast lane.
New-car sales in Ireland rose 6 percent last year and are expected to climb by almost as much this year. You can thank Ireland's growing economy, which is expanding more than twice as fast as the average for the rest of Europe.
And the growth isn't at the bottom end. Over the past four years, demand for European premium and luxury brands has grown much faster than it has in the rest of the Irish market, according to Automotive News Europe. In Ireland, the luxury segment comprises Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and Volvo.
Once upon a time, Opel was the best-selling brand in Ireland. But in 2004 it finished in fourth place.
Ford, which used to assemble cars in Cork, replaced Opel as the best-selling brand in Ireland. But last year Toyota topped Ford.
Later this year, the government will return special savings account funds to the people and that could fuel a real sales boom in Ireland.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at