New figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry show that new car registrations for March jumped by 40.7% to 12,935 compared to 9,192 registered the same time last year.

SIMI said that a total of 1,930 new electric vehicles were registered in March of this year compared to 1,034 in March last year.

So far this year, a total of 6,244 new electric cars have been registered, a jump of 121.73% from the 2,816 sold during the same time last year.

SIMI noted that electric vehicle and plug-in hybrids and hybrids continue to increase their market share, with a combined market share now of 44.63%.

Petrol cars accounted for 27.4% of car sales, while diesel accounted for 25.83%, hybrid 24.56%, electric 12.51% and plug-in electric hybrid 7.56%.

Today's figures also show that used car imports for March decreased by over 35% to 3,793 from 5,840 sales last year. Year to date imports are down 36.8% on 2021 levels.

Brian Cooke, Director General SIMI, said that while new car sales are up almost 41% on March last year and up 4% year to date, they still remain 22% behind that of pre-Covid levels in 2019.

Mr Cooke noted strong demand for new and used cars among consumers, although supply continues to remain a major challenge for the industry, while the hire drive market continues to be well below pre-pandemic levels.

"The Electric Vehicle market continues to grow, with the first quarter of this year seeing over 10,000 new EVs (BEV and PHEV combined) registered, almost double the amount for Q1 2021," Mr Cooke said.

He said the acceleration in EV sales is down to both the increase in the number of models now available for sale, and the SEAI Grants supporting their purchase.

"It is vital that Ireland delivers a modern agile charging infrastructure that keeps pace with both the increasing number of EVs and the ongoing improvements in charging technologies. By doing this, we can work together to build consumer confidence in the EV project," he added.

Today's SIMI figures also show that the top selling car brands were Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Skoda and Volkswagen.

The top car model's were the Hyundai Tucson, the Toyota Corolla, the Toyota C-HR, the Toyota RAV 4 and the Toyota Yaris, SIMI added.

Electrified cars overtake petrol models in French Q1 sales

Sales of new electrified vehicles in France overtook petrol-powered equivalents for the first time in the first quarter, a major milestone for lower-emission vehicles amid high prices at petrol pumps and government subsidies for electrified models.

Overall, French new car sales fell in the first quarter and recorded their tenth month of declines in a row with an almost 20% drop in March, as the car industry struggles to with supply chain issues including a global shortage of semiconductor chips.

Sales of fully electric and hybrid models accounted for nearly 40% of new car sales in France, compared to 38.3% for conventional petrol models, according to industry data provided by the Plateforme automobile (PFA).

A spokesperson for the PFA said due to uncertainty over the war in Ukraine and shortages of some components, it was not possible to provide a forecast for French new car sales in 2022.

Adding in diesel model sales' market share of 16.5% in the first quarter, pure combustion engine models are still in the majority.

But this is a sea change in auto sales, as electrified vehicles were a niche market just three years ago.

Encouraged by subsidies, looming bans on fossil-fuel models and high petrol prices, electrified models have become mainstream in a very short space of time.

The top-selling electric car in France in March was Tesla's mass-market Model 3, followed by the Dacia Spring from Renault and the Peugeot 208 from Stellantis.

French car sales were down 17.3% in the first quarter.

In 2020, the French car market fell off a cliff due to the coronavirus pandemic, but then rose slightly in 2021.