New figures released today show that the number of new cars licensed for the first time in July rose by 50.8% to 14,037 compared to the same time last year - an increase of 4,731. 

Car sales were expected to be strong as the new 142 number plates were issued last month. 

The Central Statistics Office said that the number of new goods vehicles jumped by 65.7% last month to 1,579 from 953 in July of last year.

A total of 76,317 new private cars were licensed in the year to the end of July, up 29.8% on the same time last year. Total new vehicles sales are up 30.8% to 93,160 from 71,250.

The CSO figures show that the most popular make of new car licensed last month was Ford, with 1,596 cars sold. It was followed by Volkswagen (1,590), Toyota (1,572) and Hyundai (1,465).

Today's figures also show that imported or used private cars licensed for the first time rose by 6.4% to 4,879 in July.