The number of new private cars licensed for the first time fell again in May as imports continued to rise, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

A total of 9,126 new private cars were licensed in May, down 2.5% from the 9,362 registered the same time last year. 

Meanwhile, the number of used, or imported, cars licensed increased by 2.7% in May to 9,062 as a weaker sterling continues to make it more attractive to buy and import vehicles from the UK.

The CSO also said there was a 1% decrease in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in May, bringing the total to 2,514. 

In the first five months of 2019, a total of 73,781 new private cars were licensed, down 7% compared with the same period last year. 

And the number of used private cars licensed increased by 3.5% compared with the same time in 2018. 

Figures last month from the CSO had shown that new car sales rose by 19.4% in April compared to the same time last year, with the increase mainly due to the timing of Easter.

Today's CSO figures also show that Volkswagen was the most popular make of new private car licensed in May. It was followed by Toyota, Renault, Opel and Ford. 

The CSO said that together these five makes represent 45% of all new private cars licensed in May. 

The CSO also noted that in the first five months of this year, 47.5% of all new private cars licensed were diesel, compared with 55.5% the same time last year.

When it comes to buying cars, licensing and registration are different processes. A vehicle is licensed when a valid motor tax disc is issued for the first time whereas registration occurs when a vehicle gets its licence plate (registration number) for the first time.