There was a 62% drop in car sales for 2009 compared to 2008, according to figures released today.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) figures show 57,460 cars were sold in 2009, compared to 151,607 in 2008.

However, SIMI says new car sales for the month of December stood at 304, up 61.7% on the same month in 2008.

Low-emission cars accounted for 55% of total new car sales in 2009, up from 27% the previous year.

'2009 was undoubtedly one of the toughest trading years in the history of the motor industry, with many businesses forced to close their doors,' commented SIMI's Director General Alan Nolan.

He said that while it is too early at this stage to see the effects of the new scrappage scheme, car dealerships around the country are reporting increased footfall in their showroom and very strong interest in the scheme.