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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Esther Deane (+353) 21 453 5322 Noreen Leahy (+353) 21 453 5262
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 Visit, the portal to Ireland's official statistics On-line ISSN 2009-5678
CSO statistical release, 09 April 2018, 11am

Vehicles licensed for the first time

March and Quarter 1 2018

 March Quarter 1
20172018Change 20172018Change
New private cars17,18016,088-1,092-6.4% 60,75358,402-2,351-3.9%
New goods vehicles2,7462,428-318-11.6% 8,8778,563-314-3.5%
Total new vehicles21,21619,681-1,535-7.2% 73,22170,574-2,647-3.6%
Used private cars8,3358,078-257-3.1% 22,85624,7061,8508.1%
Used goods vehicles1,2471,139-108-8.7% 3,4873,6061193.4%
Total used vehicles10,53910,044-495-4.7% 29,00230,7841,7826.1%

Decrease of 3.9% in new private cars licensed in Q1 2018

Figure 1 VLFTM - New private cars licensed for the first time
go to full release

In the first quarter of 2018, 58,402 new private cars were licensed, a drop of 3.9% compared with Q1 2017. The number of used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 8.1% compared with the same period in 2017. The total number of private cars (both new and used) licensed in Q1 2018 was 83,108 a decrease of 0.6% when compared with Q1 2017.

In March 2018, 16,088 new private cars were licensed for the first time, a decrease of 6.4% compared with March 2017. A total of 8,078 used (imported) private cars were licensed, a fall of 3.1% on the same month last year.

The licensing figures also show that:

  • In Q1 2018, Toyota (6,224) was the most popular make of new private cars licensed followed by Hyundai (5,998), Volkswagen (5,699), Ford (5,681) and Nissan (5,070). Together these five makes represent half (49.1%) of all new private cars licensed Q1 2018. In March 2018, the most popular new private car model was the Nissan Qashqai. See table 3 and Ireland's Top Motors.
  • In the first quarter of 2018, 95.1% of new private cars licensed were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands. The number of electric/hybrid electric new private cars licensed for the first time was 3,833 in Q1 2018 up from 2,413 in Q1 2017. See tables 2B and 6.
  • There were 32,747 new diesel private cars licensed in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 40,009 in the same period in 2017. For used (imported) diesel private cars, the total licensed was 19,414 in Q1 2018. This compares with 18,275 in the same period last year.
  • In Q1 2018, 8,563 new goods vehicles were licensed compared with 8,877 in Q1 2017, a decrease of 3.5%. See table 1.
  • In the first quarter of 2018, 0.2% of imported private cars licensed were less than one year old (vehicles previously registered abroad in 2018) while 1,281 (5.2%) were ten years or older. See table 5 and figure 5.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed decreased by 2.7% in March 2018 compared with February 2018. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed decreased by 3.4% over the same period. See table 4 and figure 4.
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.
Most popular makes of new cars, February 2018
Nissan 8.7
Most popular makes of new cars, March 2017
Nissan 10.8
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassMarch January - March
201620172018 201620172018
New vehicles       
New private cars 20,09617,18016,088 68,37560,75358,402
New goods vehicles 2,8472,7462,428 9,4518,8778,563
New tractors 187188200 639553632
New motor cycles 161165152 450404416
New exempt vehicles 724779647 2,1142,1752,086
New other 145158166 465459475
Total new vehicles 24,16021,21619,681 81,49473,22170,574
Used (imported) vehicles       
Used private cars 5,2768,3358,078 14,20122,85624,706
Used goods vehicles 7741,2471,139 2,1243,4873,606
Used tractors 134206163 398644544
Used motorcycles 126265233 333651645
Used other vehicles 269486431 7781,3641,283
Total used vehicles 6,57910,53910,044 17,83429,00230,784
Total all vehicles 30,73931,75529,725 99,328102,223101,358
Table 2A: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, March 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 3,9607,1767466308511,958
B 1,8191,541027003,387
C 1963320300531
D 29720000101
E 1072000082
F 913000022
G 7000007
Not available0000000
Table 2B: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, January-March 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 14,29525,3532293,229123643,343
B 6,6195,43101220012,172
C 7331,346016002,095
D 972960000393
E 382640000302
F 3043000073
G 93000012
Not available111000012
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, March 2018
MakeMarch January - March
NewUsed (imported)Total NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 7857221,5072,3262,2144,540
BMW 5556181,1731,8331,8343,667
Citroen 1871833704205961,016
Dacia 488305181,466861,552
Fiat 5848106227166393
Ford 1,1319382,0695,6812,9648,645
Honda 1671813486246161,240
Hyundai 1,6035972,2005,9981,7867,784
Jaguar 8737124268142410
Kia 8682821,1503,5117994,310
Land Rover 14147188506138644
Lexus 48119167240366606
Mazda 2451273721,1044101,514
Mercedes Benz 5754199942,2551,2293,484
Mini 4576121235239474
Mitsubishi 5893151343233576
Nissan 1,4015011,9025,0701,5066,576
Opel 53005301,88501,885
Peugeot 7172329492,4667303,196
Renault 1,0501371,1872,9595023,461
Seat 515936081,4833091,792
Skoda 1,2642661,5304,0177164,733
Ssangyong 941336541
Subaru 20222801191
Suzuki 13339172551146697
Toyota 1,2145121,7266,2241,6397,863
Vauxhall 042042001,2401,240
Volkswagen 1,8841,0782,9625,6993,2018,900
Volvo 2582004587466521,398
Other 5277129149231380
Total 16,0888,07824,166 58,40224,70683,108
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
Mar -18160889945
Table 4: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classMarch 2017February 2018March 2018Monthly % change
New vehicles    
New private cars 10,91010,2219,945-2.7
New goods vehicles 2,0672,0941,986-5.2
New tractors 1441711794.7
New motor cycles 125120120-
New exempt vehicles 497490478-2.4
New other 121153149-2.6
Total new vehicles 13,86413,24912,857-3.0
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 7,3698,0377,763-3.4
Used goods vehicles 1,1581,2601,177-6.6
Used tractors 198188178-5.3
Used motorcycles 277311243-21.9
Used other vehicles 473497475-4.4
Total used vehicles 9,47510,2939,836-4.4
Total all vehicles 23,33923,54222,693-3.6
X-axis label20142015201620172018 to date
<1 year old1.
1-2 years old15.611.113.216.715.4
3-5 years old49.650.447.849.252.6
6-9 years old24.327.729.727.326.6
Over 10 years old8.
Table 5: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time
Private cars20112012201320142015201620172018 Jan-Mar
Used (imported) 41,14938,46949,76252,86347,21770,13892,50824,706
% used (imported)32.1%33.5%41.1%36.4%28.1%33.1%42.1%29.7%

Footnote: For the purpose of the analysis of the age profile of used (imported) private cars, calendar years were used to band the age groups. For example, a private car defined as less than one year old is an imported vehicle which has previously been registered abroad for the first time in the current calendar year.

Table 6: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by fuel type
Fuel typeNewUsed (imported)
March January - MarchMarch January - March
20172018 20172018 20172018 20172018
Petrol4,9206,030 18,33121,8221,4901,296 3,9594,043
Diesel11,6919,206 40,00932,7476,6086,387 18,27519,414
Electric4974 2452294050 90163
Hybrid520778 2,1683,604197345 5311,086
Other00 0000 10
Total17,18016,088 60,75358,402 8,3358,078 22,85624,706

Background Notes


The vehicle licensing figures are compiled from data supplied by the Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The data provide details on the number of private cars, goods vehicles, motor cycles and other vehicles licensed for the first time in each city and county council, classified by make and size, during a given month.


The release titled 'Vehicles Licensed for the First Time' commenced in January 1993. It replaced the series previously published as 'Particulars of Vehicles Registered and Licensed for the First Time'.

In January 1993, separate systems for vehicle registration and licensing were introduced. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners became responsible for the compilation of vehicle registrations while the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government retained responsibility for vehicle licensing. In January 2008, responsibility for vehicle licensing was transferred to the Department of Transport (which later became the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport).

Motor tax charges are determined on the basis of CO2 emission level (using seven CO2 bands) for all new cars registered from 1 July 2008.

The licensing process where applicable follows the registration process.

Vehicle Licensing versus Vehicle Registration

The CSO produces vehicle licensing statistics on a monthly basis. Vehicle registration data has not been published on the CSO StatBank since June 2010.

Registration and licensing figures may differ in a given month for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined below:

  • Vehicles which under the previous system would have been licensed in the latter part of a particular month may not now be licensed until a later month because of the time lapse between registration and first licensing.
  • Registered vehicles which are not used in a public place (e.g. tractors for use exclusively on the land) may not need to be licensed.

The question is often asked, which reflects better vehicle sales, licensing figures or registration figures?

In practice, on a monthly basis, the licensing data is probably a better reflection of sales. In some cases, a vehicle may be registered by a dealership in advance of a sale. Whereas, typically, vehicles are only licensed at the point of sale. However, if a vehicle is purchased towards the end of a month, the buyer may wish to defer collecting and licensing it until the start of the following month. So the issue is not clear-cut.

From 31 October 1999, detailed information on agricultural vehicles is no longer published in accordance with Commission Decision 92/157/EEC as upheld on 28 May 1998.

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonal adjustment for each taxation class is conducted using a direct seasonal adjustment approach. However, the overall vehicle totals are estimated using the indirect approach, i.e. the ‘Total new vehicles’ is derived by adding all the seasonally adjusted new vehicles taxation classes. The main reason for adopting the indirect approach is to attribute the monthly and annual changes in vehicle licensing to each of its taxation classes. Seasonal adjustment models are developed for each series based on unadjusted data spanning from July 1996 to the current period. These models are reviewed on an annual basis; however seasonal factors are updated each month.

The adjustments are completed by applying the X-13-ARIMA model, developed by the U.S. Census Bureau to the unadjusted data.  This methodology estimates seasonal factors while also taking into consideration factors that impact on the quality of the seasonal adjustment such as:

• Calendar effects, e.g. the timing of Easter,

• Outliers, temporary changes and level shifts in the series. 

For additional information on the use of X-13-ARIMA see


Private cars:  The term 'private cars' in this release, refers to privately licensed vehicles which include hire, fleet and certain commercial vehicles.

New and used vehicles:  The term 'new vehicles' refers to new vehicles which are licensed for use in a public place, in this country, for the first time. 'Used vehicles' refers to used vehicles which are licensed for use in a public place, in this country, for the first time. In the main used vehicles are imported.

Exempt:  The term 'exempt vehicles' in this release, refers to vehicles which are licensed for the first time but are exempt from liability to pay road tax.

Exempt vehicles can be divided into four main categories:

  • State-owned
  • Diplomatic
  • Fire services
  • Disabled Drivers

Electric hybrid:  means a vehicle that derives its motive power from a combination of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine and is capable of being driven on electric propulsion alone for a material part of its normal driving cycle.

Plug-in electric hybrid:  means a vehicle that derives its motive power from a combination of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, where the electric motor derives its power from a battery that may be charged from the internal combustion engine and an alternating current (AC) electric mains supply and is capable of being driven on electric propulsion alone for a material part of its normal driving cycle.

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