New car buyers are now three times more likely to buy hybrid or electric vehicles compared to two years ago, new figures show.
Almost one in five new car purchases last month were electric or hybrid.
The rise in these vehicles comes as overall sales of new cars slumped by 6.5% in February and by 7% over the first two months of this year.
Figures published by the Central Statistics Office show that the biggest increase this year has been in hybrid cars (petrol and electric or diesel and electric), with a smaller rise in purely electric vehicles.
CSO data on vehicles licensed for the first time shows:
*New sales of private cars fell from 14,178 in February 2019 to 13,263 in February 2020 (-6.5%);
*New sales of hybrid and electric cars reached 2,384 in February 2020, representing 18% of all car sales, compared to 6% in February 2018;
*There were 1,945 new sales of hybrid cars in February 2020, compared to 1,380 in February 2019 (+41%);
*There were 439 new sales of electric cars in February 2020, compared to 375 the previous year (+17%)
The total number of new cars sales last February represents a drop of 20% since the same month in 2018.
Apart from new car sales, the CSO data shows that sales of new goods vehicles remained static, with 2,727 sales, compared to 2,736 over the same period.
This reduced the drop in new sales (private cars and goods vehicles) to 5%, compared to February 2019.
The figures show a dramatic fall in used (imported) cars sales – dropping from 8,674 in February 2019 to 7,087 last February (-18%).
The manufacturer benefiting the most over the last year is Toyota, accounting for 12.4% of new sales last February, compared to 9.8% in February 2019.
Volkswagen remained largely unchanged (up from 11.5% to 11.9%), while Hyundai dropped (from 11.2% to 9%).
Last week, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry published its own figures showing new car sales were down 8% over the year.
Its director general, Brian Cooke said political and economic uncertainty is “depressing consumer confidence” and that the coronavirus might “disrupt new hire drive registrations” in the tourist season in March and April.