Car sales continued to fall in May, according to new figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, as buyers continued to cross the border to take advantage of sterling's weakness.

Fewer than 6,000 new cars were registered last month, which is down 7.8% on the figures for May 2016. It marks the fifth consecutive month of declines and brings to 89,791 the total number of new car registrations since the start of the year, which is down more than 9,900 (9.9%) on the same period of last year.

The fall coincides with a dramatic increase in the number of cars being imported, as motorists took advantage of the weakness in sterling which was caused by Britain's Brexit vote.

The most recent figures from the Central Statistics Office showed that 38,334 cars were imported between January and April of this year, which is up more than 13,000 (52.7%) on the same period of 2016.

This is reflected in the SIMI figures which show that the decline in sales particularly pronounced in a number of border counties; with sales down 18.8% in Donegal, 17.9% in Monaghan and 16% in Louth.

According to today's figures Volkswagen is the most popular car brand in Ireland, with the German car-maker taking the top spot in the first five months of the year.

The Hyundai Tucson is the most popular model of car so far this year - though the Volkswagen Polo was the most commonly bought during May alone.

The vast majority of cars - more than 77% - sold so far this year were in the 'A' tax band, though that category has seen above average declines in the year so far.

Meanwhile the number of petrol cars being sold broadly held steady compared to a year ago - with the fuel type's market share rising to 30.3% as a result.

There has been a big jump in the number of electric cars being sold - though that is from a low base with the category representing just 0.4% of total sales. Petrol/Electric hybrid models have also enjoyed an increase in popularity so far this year and now makes up close to 3.2% of total sales.

However diesel is still the most popular fuel type in the country with a 66% share - though that is down from 70.5% a year ago.