New electric car registrations more than doubled last year

Data from Society of the Irish Motor Industry show car registrations up 19% on 2020

The number of electric cars registered for the first time more than doubled last year, according to new data from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi). It comes as new vehicle registrations in 2021 jumped by almost a fifth cent on 2020, although they remained 10.4 per cent lower than in 2019.

Simi’s official new vehicle registration statistics for 2021, which were published on Tuesday, show that there were 104,932 new cars registered last year.

New light commercial vehicle registrations saw an increase of 32.3 per cent to 28,741 compared with 2020 and were up 13.4 per cent on 2019, when 25,336 vans were registered.

Meanwhile, new heavy commercial vehicle registrations (HGV) saw an increase of 31.5 per cent to 2,716 on 2020. That was 2.1 per cent ahead of 2019.


Imported used cars accounted for 63,617 registrations, which was a decrease of 20.4 per cent on 2020, when almost 80,000 trucks were sold. The figure remains far short of the 113,926 HGVs registered in 2019.

The rate of increase in new electric cars registered jumped sharply to 115 per cent compared with growth of 16 per cent last year, as 8,646 EVs were registered last year.

The data also show a changing market place. Diesel remained the most popular engine type although its market share dropped by almost 10 per cent in the face of competition from hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid.

Diesel accounted for 33.44 per cent of all registrations, petrol for 32.16 per cent, hybrid for 16.22 per cent, electric for 8.24 per cent, and plug-in hybrid for 7.26 per cent.


Manual transmissions accounted for just over half of the market (50.95 per cent), while automatic transmissions (48.93 per cent) continued to increase in popularity.

The hatchback remained Ireland’s top selling car body type of 2021, while grey was the top selling colour.

Simi director general Brian Cooke said the difficulties arising from both Covid-19 and Brexit had impacted on the supply and demand for cars, which made 2021 “another challenging year for the Irish motor industry”.

“While new car sales show a 19 per cent increase on 2020, they remain behind 2019 levels,” he said. “On a positive note, the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) more than doubled in 2021. And with the sale of EVs being underpinned by SEAI grants, we can expect to see an increasing number of new EVs on Irish roads in 2022.

“Commercial vehicles sales also saw a significant improvement in 2021, with light commercial vehicles up over 30 per cent on 2020, reflecting the increase in business confidence as the year progressed.

“The industry is hopeful that 2022 will see further improvements in business levels. Pre-orders do indicate a strong appetite for new and used cars, providing a positive outlook for our industry, with a return to pre-pandemic 2019 new car sales levels expected.

“However, even these anticipated sales will not be sufficient to reduce Ireland’s ageing car fleet. We need to see significant growth in the years ahead if we want to optimise the benefits of reduced emissions from new cars.

“We will see annual increases in EV sales, but the extent of their penetration into the fleet will not only be determined by the increased choice of EVs been supplied but also by the continuation of Government supports.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter