Diesels outselling petrol cars by three to one
Volkswagen Golf VI models, stored at the 'CarTowers' in the Autostadt theme park in Wolfsburg and the Ford Focus. VW and Ford were two of the best-selling makes last month.
DIESEL cars are now outselling petrol models nearly three to one as motorists seek to cut costs.
Car sales have risen significantly so far this year as motorists rush to avail of the Government's scrappage scheme before it expires at the end of June.
Total car sales were up by 16pc in April to 11,171, compared to the same month last year, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.
Drivers have purchased 50,655 new cars so far this year, compared to just 44,154 this time last year and 32,692 in 2009.
However, just 27pc of cars sold have been petrol engines, while 71pc were diesel models.
Drivers are availing of lower tax rates on low-emission diesel models, as well as benefitting from cheaper fuel prices, with diesel costing around 7c less per litre than petrol. Director of policy at the AA Conor Faughnan said there had been a massive shift towards diesel cars in the last two years because the tax regime now favoured lower-emission models.
He also pointed out that diesel engines had been the best-performing in reducing CO2 emissions per km travelled.
This made them attractive to motorists as they attracted lower vehicle registration tax (VRT) and ongoing lower road tax rates, while diesel prices at the pumps are also much lower because the Government charges less tax on it.
Petrol cars still outnumber diesel models on the roads, as only around 20-30pc of the total are diesel.
However, Mr Faughnan said this trend was changing rapidly.
"There has been a huge swing towards diesel models and at this rate they will be the dominant type of car on our roads within four to five years," he said.
"Diesel engines used to be seen as rattly, noisy, smoky and slow but there have been huge advances in their technologies in the last 15 to 20 years, and now drivers wouldn't generally notice the difference."
The increase in car sales during 2011 comes as drivers rush to avail of the scrappage scheme before it expires at the end of June.
The scheme offers a €1,250 tax rebate for trade-ins of cars aged over 10 years.
Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan and Renault were the best-selling makes of car last month.
Just over 900 dual fuel cars running on a combination of petrol and electricity or ethanol were sold so far this year, but electric cars have failed to make a breakthrough despite record fuel prices, with only five purchased in 2011.
Imports of secondhand cars fell by nearly 10pc to 13,057 in the year to date.
Sales of new goods vehicles and motorcycles were also down but there was a 15pc rise in tractor sales to 589.