Figures released by SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) show that so far this year, new car sales are up by 28%.

The confidence evident in January has continued into February, with a 21% increase in car sales.

The light commercial vehicle market, which is a good sign of activity in the SME sector, saw an increase in sales of 41% in February. Sales of Heavy Goods Vehicles, often a barometer of activity in the wider economy, saw a 68% increase. 

In February, 12,754 new cars were registered and 1,869 new commercial vehicles, ensuring the market remains on course for 100,000 sales in 2014. 

"A sustained increase in new car sales is fantastic news for our industry and it's giving a lot of hope and encouragement to dealers who have endured a really tough time in recent years," said Ford Ireland boss Eddie Murphy. 

"In a way though, it's the growth in new commercial sales that is the greatest cause for optimism, as it reflects how companies, SMEs in particular, are feeling," he continued.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, so if they are feeling positive - if they are investing in new vans and trucks, if they are spending money - that's a very good sign."