New figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) show that 4,426 new cars were registered in September, down 22% on the same month last year, but up almost 30% on September 2019.

SIMI said 100,646 new cars have been registered so far this year, compared to 84,515 for the same period last year - an increase of just over 19%.

However, the number of registrations is still down 11.7% on 2019 levels.

The figures suggest that electric vehicles are continuing to grow in popularity, with 755 new cars registered in September, an 18% rise compared to the same month last year.

In total, 7,827 new electric cars have been registered so far this year, up 117% on the 3,613 registered in the same month last year.

Electric Vehicle, Plug-in Hybrids and Hybrids continue to increase their market share, with their combined market share now over 31.22%.

Diesel now accounts for 33.81%, Petrol 32.32%, Hybrid 16.26%, Electric 7.78% and Plug-in Electric Hybrid 7.18%.

SIMI said the five top selling car brands last month were Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Skoda and Ford.

The five top selling models were Hyundai's Tucson, Toyota's Corolla, Toyota's Yaris, Volkswagen's Tiguan and Toyota's Rav 4, it added.

Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General said the upward trend in Electric Vehicles is "hugely positive".

"This would not have been achieved without the availability of the generous Government incentives.

"In this context, SIMI is calling on the Irish Government to provide certainty and support for consumers by showing its support for the EV project," he said.

Mr Cooke said any proposals to increase Vehicle Registration Tax on low emitting cars or to withdraw Electric Vehicle supports would only serve to have a "detrimental effect" in reducing carbon emissions.

"With both the detail of the Climate Action Plan and Budget 2022 imminent, now is the time for Government to show leadership and help motorists make the best possible choices," he said.

"This means for Budget 2022, no increases in VRT, the extension of both the EV Grant system and 0% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) beyond the current expiry dates and, in conjunction with private enterprise, investment in a national charging infrastructure," he said.

Mr Cooke said increasing taxes makes "no sense" and penalises those who want to make better environmental choices.

"The EV numbers this year speak for themselves; the industry has supplied the cars and the Government has provided the incentives, thus allowing consumers to make strong environmental choices.

"By keeping on this pathway, we can continue to provide the retail environment to help drive down emissions," he said.