New figures from the Central Statistics Office show the number of new cars licensed for the first time fell by 6.5% in 2019, while the number of used car sales rose by 9.5% to reach its highest ever level.
The CSO said that a total of 113,305 new private cars were licensed for the first time last year, down 6.5% compared with 2018.
But the number of used, or imported, cars licensed rose by 9.5% to 108,895 in 2019 compared with 99,456 in 2018.
Overall a total of 222,200 new and used private cars were licensed in 2019 - the highest figure since 2007, the CSO added.
In December, just 729 new private cars were licensed for the first time - a fall of 6.3% compared with the same month in 2018.
The number of used cars licensed increased by 23.7% to 7,995 compared with the same same in 2018, the CSO said.
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Today's figures also show that 12.7% of new cars sold last year were electric/electric hybrid, a jump of 67.4% compared with 2018.
Volkswagen was the most popular make of new private cars licensed last year, followed by Toyota, Hyundai, Ford and Skoda. Together these five makes represent 46.5% of all new cars licensed.
Meanwhile, the most popular model of private car licensed last year was the Toyota Corolla followed by the Nissan Qashqai and the Hyundai Tucson.
And the most popular colour for new cars last year was grey (36.7%) followed by black (17.7%) and white (15.8%). This was the same order as in 2018, the CSO noted.