Car registrations up by 68pc last month
THE number of new cars on the road rose by more than 68pc last month.
In a welcome sign of recovery for the motor industry, some 12,379 new cars were licensed in March, compared with just 7,345 the same time last year.
New figures from the CSO indicate that the Government's scrappage scheme is encouraging people to purchase new cars and has given a much-needed boost to the ailing car industry.
However despite the upturn compared with last year's low point, the figures also reveal that the number of new cars licensed so far this year at 40,788 is much less than half the 96,518 registered in the same period of 2008.
They also show that fewer people are importing secondhand cars from abroad, with the number of such vehicles licensed down by nearly 7,000 to 15,014 in the first three months of the year.
Despite the safety scares that required it to recall millions of vehicles worldwide, Toyota's popularity with Irish drivers is holding up and 1,409 of its cars were sold in March.
This was second only to Ford, who outsold it with 1,584 purchases, but the two makes have been neck-and-neck as the country's top sellers for years.
Volkswagen was not far behind with 1,379 sales, followed by Nissan with 1,255.
When secondhand cars were included Toyota was the most popular make, with 6,021 purchases so far this year, compared with 5,988 for Ford.
The number of new lorries and vans licensed in March also increased by 45.6pc, up from 914 in March 2009 to 1,331 last month.