New figures show that new car sales for 2009 were down 62pc on the previous year.
The SIMI figures show that 57,460 cars were sold in 2009 compared to 151,607 in 2008.
However, SIMI says that new car sales for the month of December stood at 304, up 61.7pc on the same month in 2008, which saw sales of 188.
The SIMI figures also reveal that imported used cars are down 20.4pc on the year.
"2009 was undoubtedly one of the toughest trading years in the history of the motor industry, with many businesses forced to close their doors," said SIMI's director general Alan Nolan.