THE Exchequer earned €566m from sales of new cars last year, new figures show. Sales increased by 55pc to 88,373, according to statistics from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).
More than half the increase of 31,255 on the previous year was down to the scrappage scheme and that is reflected in the models that sold best over the 12 months.
The increase in sales generated an extra €109m in government revenue and an increase of 3,500 in the number employed in the motor industry, according to SIMI's director-general Alan Nolan.
He said the extension of the scheme to June 30 this year would mean more sales and would secure jobs for the foreseeable future.
For the second year in a row, the weather will play a crucial part. Last January, the weather was so bad that there were fewer sales in the first two or three weeks of the year than had been anticipated.
The recent prolonged cold spell also kept buyers out of garages in the last few weeks of 2010, when many customers traditionally pre-order their new motors.
As a result, the real purchasing picture won't emerge until the end of the month.
Renault's Megane -- which has been heavily promoted with special 'scrappage' deals -- tops the charts as the best-selling model. Old reliables -- such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Fiesta -- fill the other top slots.
Ford kept the top carmaker's slot ahead of Toyota and Volkswagen, with Renault and General Motors (Opel) completing the top five.