Car registrations in March were down 64% on the same month last year, according to figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

A mere 7,811 cars were registered last month, compared to 21,590 in the same 31-day period in 2008.

The amount of car registered in the first three months of the year stood at 32,589, which is 65% less than the 93,045 at the end of March last year.

Evaluating the dire statistics, SIMI Director General Alan Nolan said: 'The figures, along with the SIMI's own research which showed over 1,000 jobs lost in the sector since January, indicate the stark reality of the state of the motor industry in Ireland at this time.'

It also emphasises 'the need for action in terms of resolving the problem of VAT clawback on second hand cars and the introduction of a new car scrappage scheme for the industry in next week's Budget,' he added.

Light commercial vehicle registrations for March were down 74% on the same period last year, and heavy vehicle registrations freefalled 79%.