Official figures show that the number of new cars registered in Ireland last year rose by 2.4% compared with 2010.
The Central Statistics Office said 86,932 new cars were sold last year, compared with 84,907 in 2010.
Though car sales have risen for two years in a row, they are still well below the 146,470 recorded in 2008.
Sales earlier in the year were boosted by the scrappage scheme, which ended at the end of June.
For December, 597 new cars were registered, a fall of 7.7% compared with the same month a year earlier.
In 2011, of the 86,932 new private cars licensed, 26.7% were petrol and 71% diesel. The highest number of new private cars licensed in 2011, classified by make, was Toyota (11,065) followed by Volkswagen (11,007), Ford (10,108) and Renault (8,478).