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Extra information
For more information on this release:
E-mail: transport@cso.ie Colm Hayes +353 21 453 5263 Carlena Kearney +353 21 453 5267
For general information on CSO statistics:
information@cso.ie (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 2009-5678
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Vehicles licensed for the first time

December and Year 2018

 December January - December
20172018Change 20172018Change
New private cars60177817729.5% 127,045121,157-5,888-4.6%
New goods vehicles593582-11-1.9% 24,10125,4591,3585.6%
Total new vehicles1,3901,58719714.2% 161,840157,865-3,975-2.5%
          
Used private cars6,3596,4611021.6% 92,50899,4566,9487.5%
Used goods vehicles1,0691,056-13-1.2% 14,16814,8596914.9%
Total used vehicles8,1238,2531301.6% 118,018125,8747,8566.7%

New private cars licensed in 2018 decreased by 4.6%

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

In 2018, 121,157 new private cars were licensed for the first time, a decrease of 4.6% compared with the previous year.

The number of used (imported) private cars licensed rose by 7.5% to 99,456 in 2018 compared with 92,508 in 2017. This is the highest annual number of used (imported) cars licensed on record. Overall 220,613 new and used private cars were licensed in 2018, and this is the highest figure since 2007 (239,473).

All but three counties (Carlow, Kildare and Louth) showed a decrease in the number of new private cars licensed for 2018.  Almost half (48.8%) of all new private cars licensed in the country in 2018 were licensed in Dublin (36.7%) and Cork (12.0%) combined. See figure 2.

In December 2018, 778 new private cars were licensed for the first time, an increase of 29.5% compared with December 2017. The number of used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 1.6% compared with the same period in 2017.

The licensing figures also show that:

  • Volkswagen (13,496) was the most popular make of new private cars licensed in 2018, followed by Toyota (11,484), Hyundai (10,950), Ford (10,746) and Nissan (9,277). Together these five makes represent 46.2% of all new private cars licensed. See table 3.
  • In 2018, 54.3% of new private cars licensed were diesel compared with 64.9% in 2017, while 7.1% of new private cars licensed were electric/electric hybrid (8,567), an increase of 66.0% compared with 2017. See table 2B.
  • The total number of new vehicles licensed during 2018 was 157,865 compared with 161,840 in 2017, a decrease of 2.5%. While private cars decreased by 4.6% annually, all other taxation class categories of new vehicles rose with new goods vehicles increasing by 1,358 (5.6%). See table 1.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed increased by 10.4% in December 2018 compared with November 2018. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 1.5% over the same period. See table 5 and figure 6.
  • In 2018, over half (50.8%) of imported private cars licensed were three to five years old, while 1.9% were less than one year old (vehicles previously registered abroad in 2018) and 4.6% were ten years or older. See table 6 and figure 7.
Most popular makes of new cars 2018
Volkswagen 11.1
Toyota 9.5
Hyundai 9
Ford 8.9
Nissan 7.7
Other53.8
Most popular makes of new cars 2017
Volkswagen 10.7
Toyota 9.6
Hyundai 8.8
Ford 9.2
Nissan 7.8
Other53.9

The body type saloon accounted for 15.4% of new private cars licensed in 2018, which is down from 25.6% in 2014. See table A.

Table A: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by body type, 2014 - 2018
 SaloonHatchbackEstate/Jeep /MPV/Station WagonConvertible / Sports CoupeOtherTotal
201423,63024,58442,1777871,18392,361
201528,26936,35753,9269971,561121,110
201630,45239,84668,9361,0041,693141,931
201725,18438,29761,1759581,431127,045
201818,60036,19164,2868051,275121,157

 For all private cars licensed for the first time in 2018, petrol was the fuel type of 29.3% and 6.0% were hybrid powered. This compares with 22.1% and 0.9% respectively in 2014. See table B.

Table B: All private cars licensed for the first time by fuel type, 2014 - 2018
 PetrolDieselElectricHybridOther Total
201432,098111,4622731,35635145,224
201541,759123,9495712,0408168,327
201652,087155,2066084,1608212,069
201755,855155,2121,0927,3922219,553
201864,613140,8501,92213,2235220,613

The most popular colour for new private cars licensed in 2018 was grey (37.7%) followed by black (18.3%) and white (15.1%), and this was the same order as in 2017. See table 8.

In 2018, the colour of choice for most new Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford and Nissan private cars licensed was grey. See table C.

Table C: New private cars licensed for the first time by most popular make and colour, 2017 - 2018
 2017 2018
MakeColourPercentage ColourPercentage
Volkswagen Grey39.7 Grey39.3
Toyota Grey57.2 Grey55.5
Hyundai White28.0 Grey24.7
Ford Grey41.8 Grey39.9
Nissan Grey34.1 Grey34.8

January to June remained the most popular period for licensing new private cars (68.5%) in 2018, with almost half being licensed in the first quarter (48.2%). The most popular month for licensing new private cars in 2018 was January (21.3%) followed by July (17.1%). See table D.

Table D: Percentage of new private cars licensed for the first time, 2014 to 2018
YearJanQuarter 1Quarter 2Jan-JunJulQuarter 3Quarter 4Jul-Dec
201417.342.624.867.415.226.65.932.6
201516.643.421.664.917.629.55.535.1
201619.148.220.568.715.826.84.531.3
201721.047.820.968.816.827.04.331.2
201821.348.220.368.517.127.14.431.5
Quarter 1Quarter 2Quarter 3Quarter 4
201442.624.826.65.9
201543.421.629.55.5
201648.220.526.84.5
201747.820.927.04.3
201848.220.327.14.4

 

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.
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassDecember January - December
201620172018 201620172018
New vehicles       
New private cars 679601778 141,931127,045121,157
New goods vehicles 632593582 28,05124,10125,459
New tractors 495463 1,9341,8102,043
New motor cycles 353142 1,5461,4311,556
New exempt vehicles 937555 6,2075,8545,910
New other 383667 1,6241,5991,740
Total new vehicles 1,5261,3901,587 181,293161,840157,865
       
Used (imported) vehicles       
Used private cars 6,3706,3596,461 70,13892,50899,456
Used goods vehicles 1,0041,0691,056 10,92514,16814,859
Used tractors 149146156 1,9082,4532,198
Used motorcycles 133164211 2,2043,1873,348
Used other vehicles 397385369 4,4285,7026,013
Total used vehicles 8,0538,1238,253 89,603118,018125,874
       
Total all vehicles 9,5799,5139,840 270,896279,858283,739
Table 2A: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, December 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 186305111305520
B 114930100208
C 615000021
D 011000011
E 1800009
F 0400004
G 1000001
Not available0400004
Total308440111405778
Table 2B: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, January-December 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 31,01449,8061,2226,354171489,111
B 13,83811,41702420025,497
C 1,5262,827031014,385
D 21994302001,164
E 816020000683
F 601490000209
G 3512000047
Not available358000061
Total46,77665,8141,2226,6291715121,157
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, December 2018
MakeDecember January - December
NewUsed (imported)Total NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 195695884,8068,60413,410
BMW 434945374,1287,59611,724
Citroen 141601741,1862,2973,483
Dacia 5512673,4112993,710
Fiat 557626988101,508
Ford 4573477910,74611,68622,432
Honda 41511551,2602,6583,918
Hyundai 2843246010,9506,97017,920
Jaguar 242445946071,201
Kia 202152357,0053,33110,336
Land Rover 643491,0015771,578
Lexus 21041064711,5532,024
Mazda 3991022,1621,5623,724
Mercedes Benz 224774993,9535,7359,688
Mini 1455695779371,514
Mitsubishi 289917411,1321,873
Nissan 383373759,2776,00615,283
Opel 640644,89374,900
Peugeot 202022225,3742,9118,285
Renault 861332197,0752,0219,096
Seat 35781133,6001,2124,812
Skoda 561782348,6682,86711,535
Ssangyong 000741589
Subaru 26818785272
Suzuki 731381,2295431,772
Toyota 7245252411,4846,85618,340
Vauxhall 029029004,8554,855
Volkswagen 9579188613,49612,42425,920
Volvo 81551631,6902,3254,015
Other1175864219751,396
Total7786,4617,239 121,15799,456220,613
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
Table 4: Number of new vehicles licensed for the first time by body type and taxation class, 2018
Body typeTaxation classTotal
Private carsGoods vehiclesTractorsMotor cycles Exempt vehiclesOther classes
Small PSVsLarge PSVsMachines & contrivancesOther vehicles
Agricultural tractor001,94902000001,969
Articulated tractor unit09780010000979
Bus12000240523017576
Chassis cab0800000008
Convertible 16300030000166
Crew cab1852,608005300002,846
Estate10,6741003765100011,102
Excavator/digger100000082083
Fork lift010000052053
Hatchback36,1910007632400036,978
Jeep5,09550025390005,362
MPV33,8424002,270193002136,330
Minibus35000303501386
Moped000490000049
Motor caravan30002000159164
Motor cycle0001,339500001,344
Pick up451,020001500001,080
Rigid0300000003
Saloon18,60000075711400019,471
Scooter00015700000157
Sports/Coupe (non convertible)642000110000653
Station wagon/jeep14,6753009242200115,625
Telescopic handler004300001240167
Van95319,05300120002120,129
Other 411,775511131050212802,485
Total 121,15725,4592,0431,5565,910418558472292157,865
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
December 201363977637963
January 20141597577638005
February 20141190674867971
March 20141148574407889
April 20141175781857803
May 2014776777307736
June 2014339075727703
July 20141403772327734
August 2014620179447846
September 2014437681828049
October 2014308280608352
November 2014146588388716
December 2014920115099079
January 20152010593449390
February 20151538495989618
March 201517054102069775
April 20151316698089903
May 20159027993010068
June 20153924955510310
July 2015212901068710601
August 201585721119510905
September 201559241147011210
October 201539431136211479
November 201518741146711695
December 20158471156111867
January 2016271061225111966
February 2016211731250911968
March 2016200961153211877
April 2016148471204711730
May 2016101251125811611
June 201641431107911598
July 2016224621181711668
August 201697811207411751
September 201658421171211740
October 201638311202611597
November 201618461134211361
December 20166791020811099
January 2017266681111610872
February 2017169051045710714
March 2017171801091710611
April 2017134271066510540
May 201795811045710489
June 20173585988510452
July 2017213161087110421
August 201781051030210377
September 201748281038610298
October 201732551037210201
November 201715941011610082
December 201760194119966
January 201825813101109904
February 201816501101669922
March 20181608898869983
April 201811557975610056
May 201893621022710100
June 201837161049710089
July 2018207431005310068
August 20187681995110110
September 201843971003610251
October 201828749274
November 2018164710622
December 201877811731
Table 5: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classDecember 2017November 2018December 2018Monthly % change
New vehicles    
New private cars 9,41110,62211,73110.4
New goods vehicles 2,1522,0062,0904.2
New tractors 1601751845.1
New motor cycles 11513115216.0
New exempt vehicles 479499389-22.0
New other 11810921799.1
Total new vehicles 12,43513,54214,7639.0
    
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 8,2618,1668,2891.5
Used goods vehicles 1,2441,2121,2301.5
Used tractors 18317719610.7
Used motorcycles 27830134113.3
Used other vehicles 504529480-9.3
Total used vehicles 10,47010,38510,5361.5
    
Total all vehicles 22,90523,92725,2995.7
X-axis label20142015201620172018
<1 year old1.61.12.11.91.9
1-2 years old15.611.113.216.718.3
3-5 years old49.650.447.849.250.8
6-9 years old24.327.729.727.324.4
Over 10 years old8.99.87.34.84.6
Table 6: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time
Private cars20142015201620172018
New92,361121,110141,931127,045121,157
Used (imported) 52,86347,21770,13892,50899,456
Total145,224168,327212,069219,553220,613
% used (imported)36.4%28.1%33.1%42.1%45.1%

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 7: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by fuel type, 2017 - 2018
Fuel typeNewUsed (imported)
December January - DecemberDecember January - December
20172018 20172018 20172018 20172018
Petrol191308 39,39146,776 1,1871,235 16,46417,837
Diesel394440 82,49265,814 4,8344,716 72,72075,036
Electric511 6231,222 3943 469700
Hybrid1119 4,5397,345 298467 2,8535,878
Other00 00 10 25
Total601778 127,045121,157 6,3596,461 92,50899,456
Table 8: Percentage of new private cars licensed for the first time by most popular colour, 2014 - 2018
Colour120142015201620172018
Grey16.917.420.737.237.7
Black21.019.819.219.118.3
White11.212.714.815.215.1
Blue10.011.111.612.412.9
Red10.510.911.811.411.7
Silver21.019.615.70.20.1
Other9.48.56.14.64.1
Total100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0
1 From September 2016, the following basic colours are available for use: white, yellow, orange, red, violet, blue, green, grey, brown or black.

Background Notes

Source

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.

History

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 https://www.census.gov/srd/www/winx13/

Definitions

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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