Official government figures show that the number of new cars sold in Ireland in July fell by 73% compared with the same month last year.

The Irish Central Statistics Office said there were 4,355 new cars licensed in July, which is down from 16,175 a year earlier.

For the first seven months of this year, new car figures are showing a drop of 64% to 46,270.

From a high of 186,000 units in 2007, Ireland’s car market fell by almost a fifth to less than 152,000 units in 2008.

This year, the downward spiral has continued on the back of a deep recession. Ireland’s GDP is expected to contract by 7% this year (after a 2.3% reduction in 2008), reflecting a collapse in construction activity, depressed private consumption and falling exports.