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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Noreen Leahy (+353) 21 453 5262 Esther Deane (+353) 21 453 5322
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, , 11am

Vehicles licensed for the first time

August 2018

 August January - August
20172018Change 20172018Change
New private cars8,1057,681-424-5.2% 116,767111,461-5,306-4.5%
New goods vehicles2,0802,2771979.5% 19,17120,3541,1836.2%
Total new vehicles11,22611,022-204-1.8% 144,726141,106-3,620-2.5%
Used private cars8,2208,5863664.5% 60,76367,0606,29710.4%
Used goods vehicles1,0691,157888.2% 9,39610,1307347.8%
Total used vehicles10,32510,7604354.2% 78,13585,2327,0979.1%

Decrease of 5.2% in new private cars licensed in August 2018

Figure 1 VLFTM - New private cars licensed for the first time
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In August 2018, 7,681 new private cars were licensed for the first time, a decrease of 5.2% compared with August 2017. A total of 8,586 used (imported) private cars were licensed, representing a rise of 4.5% on the same month last year.

In the first eight months of 2018, 111,461 new private cars were licensed, a decrease of 4.5% compared with the same period last year. The number of used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 10.4% compared with the same period in 2017.

The licensing figures also show that:

  • Volkswagen (871) was the most popular make of new private cars licensed in August 2018, followed by Ford (795), Nissan (605), Toyota (550) and Skoda (511). Together these five makes represent 43.4% of all new private cars licensed. See table 3
  • In the first eight months of 2018, 60,228 (54.0%) new private cars licensed were diesel, while 94.8% of new private cars licensed in the same period were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands. See table 2B.
  • The total number of vehicles licensed during August 2018 was 21,782 compared with 21,551 during the same month in 2017, an increase of 1.1 %. See table 1.
  • There was a 9.5% increase in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in August 2018 bringing the total to 2,277.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed decreased by 1.6% in August 2018 compared with July 2018. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 1.8% over the same period. See table 4 and figure 4.
  • In the first eight months of 2018, just 0.9% of imported private cars licensed were less than one year old (vehicles previously registered abroad in 2018) while 20,188 (30.1%) were six years or older. See table 5 and figure 5.
  • There were 60,228 new diesel private cars licensed in the first eight months of 2018, compared with 75,795 in the same period in 2017. For used (imported) diesel private cars, the total licensed was 51,445 in the first eight months of 2018. This compares with 48,177 in the same period last year. See table 6.

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.

On the 5th October 2018 Figure 4 in this release was amended to display data for 'New private cars' rather than 'Total new vehicles'.

Most popular makes of new cars August 2018
Volkswagen 11.3
Ford 10.4
Nissan 7.9
Most popular makes of new cars August 2017
Volkswagen 10.5
Ford 9.5
Nissan 6.8
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassAugust January - August
201620172018 201620172018
New vehicles       
New private cars 9,7818,1057,681 129,733116,767111,461
New goods vehicles 2,3932,0802,277 22,08719,17120,354
New tractors 156147171 1,6221,4631,619
New motor cycles 141129170 1,2481,1351,214
New exempt vehicles 736638593 5,1834,9195,057
New other 145127130 1,2831,2711,401
Total new vehicles 13,35211,22611,022 161,156144,726141,106
Used (imported) vehicles       
Used private cars 6,1358,2208,586 42,54660,76367,060
Used goods vehicles 8881,0691,157 6,7069,39610,130
Used tractors 166199169 1,2721,7491,555
Used motorcycles 216318308 1,4862,3032,387
Used other vehicles 421519540 2,8243,9244,100
Total used vehicles 7,82610,32510,760 54,83478,13585,232
Total all vehicles 21,17821,55121,782 215,990222,861226,338
Table 2A: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, August 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 1,8783,0611933320625,526
B 899781020001,700
C 921850300280
D 12960100109
E 738000045
F 47000011
G 2400006
Not available0400004
Table 2B: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, January-August 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 28,82245,7541,0096,069159982,254
B 12,73510,41002240023,369
C 1,3902,528030013,949
D 19381102001,006
E 725420000614
F 531210000174
G 3011000041
Not available351000054
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, August 2018
MakeAugust January - August
NewUsed (imported)Total NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 3157311,0464,3535,89410,247
BMW 3126629743,6765,1068,782
Citroen 831982811,0421,6032,645
Dacia 207242312,9102093,119
Fiat 47661136055021,107
Ford 7959741,7699,7947,86017,654
Honda 1152043191,1441,8603,004
Hyundai 4886271,11510,4854,81215,297
Jaguar 345488540412952
Kia 4613027636,6112,2098,820
Land Rover 58491079043731,277
Lexus 351441794401,0631,503
Mazda 2071143212,0111,0863,097
Mercedes Benz 1875106973,6743,5857,259
Mini 45791244956401,135
Mitsubishi 721011736616921,353
Nissan 6055751,1808,7204,14412,864
Opel 29312944,47554,480
Peugeot 4262446704,8931,9516,844
Renault 4201555756,3221,3737,695
Seat 2521003523,3407884,128
Skoda 5112467577,9991,9039,902
Ssangyong 617671279
Subaru 1652115855213
Suzuki 123431661,0213691,390
Toyota 5506361,18610,9124,53215,444
Vauxhall 042442403,3523,352
Volkswagen 8711,0531,92412,3498,40420,753
Volvo 1141782921,4991,6173,116
Total7,6818,58616,267 111,46167,060178,521
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
August 2013450454247110
September 2013325761517405
October 2013283269477672
November 2013130772667869
December 201363977717982
January 20141597577618013
February 20141190674917968
March 20141148574507879
April 20141175782097792
May 2014776777387729
June 2014339075487704
July 20141403771957741
August 2014620179477858
September 2014437681838063
October 2014308280668364
November 2014146588518725
December 2014920115479086
January 20152010593529399
February 20151538496069636
March 201517054102209805
April 20151316698419944
May 20159027994810113
June 20153924947710348
July 2015212901064010624
August 201585721117910911
September 201559241144611207
October 201539431135011476
November 201518741146911703
December 20158471163511891
January 2016271061228112002
February 2016211731253212005
March 2016200961154311906
April 2016148471209011746
May 2016101251127611607
June 201641431101511569
July 2016224621178211611
August 201697811200811672
September 201658421160511655
October 201638311189711522
November 201618461129211310
December 20166791049111078
January 2017266681115910877
February 2017169051047610738
March 2017171801092110643
April 2017134271069610576
May 201795811048010512
June 20173585987710429
July 2017213161087310336
August 201781051024810249
September 201748281018610171
October 20173255994410122
November 201715941001310077
December 20176011004610033
January 2018258131016910013
February 2018165011017910033
March 201816088988510066
April 201811557976210113
May 201893621026010151
June 2018371610561
July 20182074310092
August 201876819930
Table 4: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classAugust 2017July 2018August 2018Monthly % change
New vehicles    
New private cars 10,24810,0929,930-1.6
New goods vehicles 2,0242,1622,1610.0
New tractors 147174172-1.1
New motor cycles 11513514910.4
New exempt vehicles 513524471-10.1
New other 125225131-41.8
Total new vehicles 13,17213,31213,014-2.2
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 8,0508,2578,4071.8
Used goods vehicles 1,1571,3121,253-4.5
Used tractors 198187169-9.6
Used motorcycles 2902682804.5
Used other vehicles 458501481-4.0
Total used vehicles 10,15310,52510,5900.6
Total all vehicles 23,32523,83723,604-1.0
X-axis label20142015201620172018 to date
<1 year old1.
1-2 years old15.611.113.216.717.5
3-5 years old49.650.447.849.251.5
6-9 years old24.327.729.727.325.2
Over 10 years old8.
Table 5: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time
Private cars20142015201620172018 January - August
Used (imported) 52,86347,21770,13892,50867,060
% used (imported)36.4%28.1%33.1%42.1%37.6%

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)
August January - AugustAugust January - August
20172018 20172018 20172018 20172018
Petrol2,4612,894 36,32143,2981,4511,515 10,64511,601
Diesel5,2474,176 75,79560,2286,4466,425 48,17751,445
Electric65193 5141,0095476 292461
Hybrid332418 4,1376,926269570 1,6483,551
Other00 0000 12
Total8,1057,681 116,767111,461 8,2208,586 60,76367,060

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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