Just over 2,700 electric cars were registered last month, an increase of 178% on January last year and the highest monthly figure on record - according to new figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

Battery operated cars have seen the greatest increase in market share for January, accounting for over 46% of the new car market.

The figures show there was a significant increase in growth for hybrid (26.5%), plug-in hybrid (8.4%) and electric (10.8%) market share.

Despite a large decrease in market share for internal combustion engine type vehicles, petrol is now dominant at 28.6%, while Diesel declined to 22.4%.

In total, the figures show that 25,093 cars were registered in January, slightly down on the same month in 2021 (0.2%), and down 22% on pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Brian Cooke, Director General of SIMI said new car sales are behind pre-pandemic levels largely due to supply chain issues arising from the pandemic lockdowns.

"With retailers reporting strong order banks and with expected improvements in supply as the year progresses, this should lead to both an improving new car market and a more even spread of sales in 2022," he said.

"Also the trade-ins against January new car sales will have increased supply of used car stock, which means greater variety and volume for interested used car buyers in the weeks ahead," he added.

Commenting on the rise in EV registrations, Mr Cooke said the new EVS on the road in January equate to EV sales for the whole of the first quarter last year.

"The increasing appetite for electric, plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrid vehicles has seen cars with battery technology accounting for over 46% of new car sales during the month," he said.

Mr Cooke said he expects the strong growth in EV sales to continue for the rest of the year.

"In this environment it is essential that Government supports the expansion of a national charging infrastructure to keep pace with this demand for EVs.

"In addition, the grant and taxation incentives must be extended if we are to secure a greater supply of EVs for Ireland and to encourage more consumers to choose low and zero-emitting vehicles," he added.

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

The five top selling models were Hyundai's Tucson, Toyota's Corolla, Toyota's Rav 4, Toyota's CH-R and Toyota's Yaris.