The number of new cars licensed here fell 6.5% in the first half of the year, according to new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

A total of 3,858 cars were licensed for the first time in June, the CSO said, up 3.8% on the same month a year ago.

Despite that increase though, the total number of new cars licensed here over the last six months reached 77,639, down 5,398 on the same period last year.

The decrease was even greater in new goods vehicles, where there was a 7.5% drop in new registrations in June, and 8.1% over the past six months.

The number of used imported private cars licensed increased by 2.8% compared with the same period in 2018, as buyers continue to take advantage of weaker exchange rates.

Electric and hybrid cars saw a significant jump in sales, with the number of new registrations in these categories up 68.5% to 9,150.

Such sales accounted for 11.8% of all new private car licences in the first six months of the year, compared to a 6.5% rise over the same period last year.

The largest proportion of electric vehicle new registrations was in Wicklow.

Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen and BMW represented over ninety percent of new electric private cars licensed in the first six months of 2019. 

In contrast, licensing of new petrol and diesel private cars fell.

Overall Volkswagen was the most popular brand over the first six months of 2019, followed by Toyota and Hyundai.

Meanwhile, new data from Fexco found that between January and June, motorists here increased their spending on vehicles imported from the UK by 107% compared to the first half of 2018.

The analysis also found the number of UK vehicles imported by Irish drivers rose by 74% on 2018 levels, and that the average amount each buyer spent rose by a fifth to €17,709. 

That represents an increase of €7,708 or 77% more than they spent on average in the first half of 2016 in the run up to the Brexit referendum.

 "While Ireland's car dealers were the first to spot the buying opportunities offered by cheaper British imports, the savings are now attracting growing numbers of individual buyers too," said David Lamb, head of dealing at Fexco Corporate Payments.

"The UK has a much greater supply of used and nearly new cars than Ireland, so a British used car will typically cost less than a similar model on this side of the Irish Sea.

"When you factor in the added purchasing power the strong Euro gives Irish buyers looking to the UK for their next car, the case for buying British can be compelling."