More than 12,700 new vehicles were registered in February, according to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, a 20.5% increase on the same month of 2013.

The figures come after a particularly strong sales period in January, which saw a 33% increase in the number of vehicles sold year-on-year.

The number of cars sold in the first two months of this year is more than 28% higher than in 2013, according to SIMI’s figures, with more than 35,600 vehicles registered during the period.

This represents the best performance by the industry during the first two months of the year since 2008.

The Volkswagen Golf was the best selling car model during the year, representing around 4.8% of all sales.

Volkswagen was also the most popular car brand during the month.

More than 67% of the models sold fit into the ‘A’ band for Co2 emissions, according to the figures, with a further 27.5% categorised in the ‘B’ band.

Nearly three quarters of the cars sold during the month were diesel models, while the majority of vehicles sold were either hatchback or saloon models.

SIMI’s director general Alan Nolan said that the industry is often the first affected by a downturn and one of the first to see gains when the economy improves.

“Dealers are undoubtedly seeing a lot more confidence among consumers, many of whom have been putting off making large purchases over the last few years,” he said.

“Better availability of finance for creditworthy consumers combined with improved consumer confidence have helped make this a very good start to 2014 for the industry.”