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Extra information
For more information on this release:
E-mail: Kieran Riordan (+353) 21 453 5320 Carlena Kearney (+353) 21 453 5267
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

January 2018

New private cars26,66825,813-855-3.2%
New goods vehicles3,0163,032160.5%
Total new vehicles30,87930,111-768-2.5%
Used private cars6,7988,0251,22718.0%
Used goods vehicles1,1071,22211510.4%
Total used vehicles8,74010,0281,28814.7%

Decrease of 3.2% in new private cars licensed in January 2018

Figure 1 VLFTM - New private cars licensed for the first time
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In January 2018, 25,813 new private cars were licensed, a drop of 3.2% compared with January 2017. 

The number of used (imported) private cars licensed in January 2018 was 8,025, an increase of 18.0% when compared with January 2017.

The licensing figures also show that: 

  • Toyota (3,415) was the most popular make of new private car licensed followed by Ford (2,802), Hyundai (2,736), Nissan (2,150) and Volkswagen (2,083). Together these five makes represent 51.1% of all new private cars licensed in January 2018. See table 3.
  • In January 2018, Hyundai Tucson was the most popular model of new private car licensed (1,113), followed by Nissan Qashqai (1,055) and Ford Focus (971). See Ireland's Top Motors.
  • Over half of new private cars licensed in January 2018 were diesel (55.8%), 36.6% were petrol and 7.6% were electric/hybrid. In the same period, 94.8% of new private cars licensed were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands. See table 2.
  • There was a marginal increase of 0.5% in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in January 2018 bringing the total to 3,032.
  • The total number of new vehicles licensed during January 2018 was 30,111 compared with 30,879 during the same month in 2017, a decrease of 2.5%. See table 1.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed increased by 1.8% in January 2018 compared with December 2017. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed decreased by 0.3% over the same period. See table 4 and figure 4.
  • In January 2018, 13.6% of imported private cars licensed were less than three years old (vehicles previously registered abroad since 2016) while 456 (5.7%) were ten years or older. See table 5 and figure 5.
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, January 2018
Toyota 13.2
Ford 10.9
Hyundai 10.6
Nissan 8.3
Volkswagen 8.1
Most popular makes of new cars, January 2017
Toyota 12.8
Ford 11.4
Hyundai 11.4
Nissan 8.1
Volkswagen 8.8
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassJanuary
New vehicles
New Private Cars 27,10626,66825,813
New Goods Vehicles 2,7893,0163,032
New Tractors 257194239
New Motor Cycles 162112148
New Exempt Vehicles 690719751
New Other 146170128
Total New Vehicles 31,15030,87930,111
Used (imported) vehicles   
Used private cars 3,8486,7988,025
Used goods vehicles 6391,1071,222
Used tractors 126221197
Used motorcycles 107210185
Used other vehicles 226404399
Total used vehicles 4,9468,74010,028
Total all vehicles 36,09639,61940,139
Table 2: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, January 2018
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 6,16711,150771,74717319,215
B 2,8522,344061005,257
C 344647010001,001
D 431320000175
E 151110000126
F 1417000031
G 1300004
Not available1300004
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, January 2018
NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 9317441,675
BMW 7765871,363
Citroen 149204353
Dacia 58433617
Fiat 11071181
Ford 2,8029693,771
Honda 282219501
Hyundai 2,7365623,298
Jaguar 9354147
Kia 1,6692681,937
Land Rover 21551266
Lexus 127121248
Mazda 577140717
Mercedes Benz 1,0603531,413
Mini 12869197
Mitsubishi 18167248
Nissan 2,1504832,633
Opel 8300830
Peugeot 1,0482621,310
Renault 1,0951781,273
Seat 515102617
Skoda 1,5662021,768
Ssangyong 19019
Subaru 33639
Suzuki 27954333
Toyota 3,4155533,968
Vauxhall 0406406
Volkswagen 2,0839923,075
Volvo 306193499
Other 5482136
Total 25,8138,02533,838
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
Table 4: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classJanuary 2017December 2017January 2018Monthly % change
New vehicles
New private cars 11,1269,93110,1081.8
New goods vehicles 2,2732,2342,132-4.6
New tractors 1431591653.8
New motor cycles 971201243.3
New exempt vehicles 49644149311.8
New other 150127108-15.0
Total new vehicles 14,28513,01213,1300.9
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 7,3098,3818,354-0.3
Used goods vehicles 1,1851,2501,2560.5
Used tractors 2401892037.4
Used motorcycles 279302249-17.5
Used other vehicles 507498477-4.2
Total used vehicles 9,52010,62010,539-0.8
Total all vehicles 23,80523,63223,6690.2
X-axis label20142015201620172018 to date
<1 year old1.
1-2 years old15.611.113.216.713.5
3-5 years old49.650.447.849.252.5
6-9 years old24.327.729.727.328.1
Over 10 years old8.
Table 5: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class and year
Taxation class2011201220132014201520162017Jan 2018
New private cars 86,93276,25671,34892,361121,110141,931127,04525,813
Used private cars 41,14938,46949,76252,86347,21770,13892,5088,025
Total private cars128,081114,725121,110145,224168,327212,069219,55333,838
% used private cars32.1%33.5%41.1%36.4%28.1%33.1%42.1%23.7%

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.

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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