New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of new private cars licensed for the first time decreased by 17.4% to 639 in December compared to the same month the previous year.
The CSO figures show that in total, 71,348 new private cars were licensed in the year to the end of December, down 6.4% on the previous year.
Of the 71,348 new cars sold last year, 72.6% were diesel and 26.6% were petrol.
Today's figures show that the most popular make of car last year was Volkswagen, with a total of 9,098 models sold. Toyota sold 7,180 cars, followed by Ford (7,032) and Hyundai (5,548).
The CSO also said that the number of used (imported) cars licensed for the first time in December rose by 13.9% to 271. But for the year, the number of used cars fell by 6.4% to 3,181.
The number of new goods vehicles licensed during the year rose by 1.6% to 11,024.
In total, the number of vehicles licensed last year was 164,043, up 13.1% on the 145,043 licensed in 2012.