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

Vehicles licensed for the first time

January 2019

New private cars25,81322,279-3,534-13.7%
New goods vehicles3,0322,690-342-11.3%
Total new vehicles30,11126,374-3,737-12.4%
Used private cars8,0258,1311061.3%
Used goods vehicles1,2221,313917.4%
Total used vehicles10,02810,3823543.5%

Decrease of 13.7% in new private cars licensed in January 2019

Figure 1 VLFTM - New private cars licensed for the first time
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In January 2019, 22,279 new private cars were licensed, a drop of 13.7% compared with January 2018. 

The number of used (imported) private cars licensed in January 2019 was 8,131, an increase of 1.3% when compared with January 2018.

 The licensing figures also show that:

  • Hyundai (2,818) was the most popular make of new private car licensed followed by Ford (2,301), Toyota (2,270), Volkswagen (2,135) and Nissan (2,033). Together these five makes represent 51.9% of all new private cars licensed in January 2019. See table 3.
  • In January 2019, 48.5% of all new private cars licensed were diesel while 92.7% of new private cars licensed in the same period were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands. See table 2.
  • There was a decrease of 11.3% in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in January 2019 bringing the total to 2,690.
  • The total number of new vehicles licensed during January 2019 was 26,374 compared with 30,111 during the same month in 2018, a decrease of 12.4%. See table 1.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed decreased by 14.3% in January 2019 compared with December 2018. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed increased by 0.2% over the same period. See table 4 and figure 4.
  • In January 2019, 15.3% of imported private cars licensed were less than three years old (vehicles previously registered abroad since 2017) while 525 (6.5%) 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 2019
Hyundai 12.6
Ford 10.3
Toyota 10.2
Volkswagen 9.6
Nissan 9.1
Most popular makes of new cars, January 2018
Hyundai 10.6
Ford 10.9
Toyota 13.2
Volkswagen 8.1
Nissan 8.3
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassJanuary
New vehicles
New Private Cars 26,66825,81322,279
New Goods Vehicles 3,0163,0322,690
New Tractors 194239292
New Motor Cycles 112148166
New Exempt Vehicles 719751772
New Other 170128175
Total New Vehicles 30,87930,11126,374
Used (imported) vehicles   
Used private cars 6,7988,0258,131
Used goods vehicles 1,1071,2221,313
Used tractors 221197227
Used motorcycles 210185239
Used other vehicles 404399472
Total used vehicles 8,74010,02810,382
Total all vehicles 39,61940,13936,756
Note: All vehicles total corrected after time of publication
Table 2: Number of new private cars licensed for the first time by CO2 emission band and fuel type, January 2019
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 4,9135,7586071,690022513,193
B 3,4283,975058007,461
C 4135010300917
D 1004070000507
E 111030000114
F 1067000077
G 73000010
Not available0000000
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, January 2019
NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 6406961,336
BMW 5256371,162
Citroen 118158276
Dacia 62519644
Fiat 7578153
Ford 2,3019313,232
Honda 334221555
Hyundai 2,8186293,447
Jaguar 7658134
Kia 1,3812781,659
Land Rover 24853301
Lexus 114104218
Mazda 358134492
Mercedes Benz 5026211,123
Mini 8372155
Mitsubishi 196125321
Nissan 2,0334842,517
Opel 6610661
Peugeot 1,0952181,313
Renault 9171391,056
Seat 53390623
Skoda 1,5721791,751
Ssangyong 707
Subaru 13518
Suzuki 28750337
Toyota 2,2706142,884
Vauxhall 0355355
Volkswagen 2,1359383,073
Volvo 324182506
Other 3863101
Total 22,2798,13130,410
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
January 20141597577157897
February 20141190674457874
March 20141148574007807
April 20141175781917743
May 2014776777047698
June 2014339075817687
July 20141403773227734
August 2014620179847853
September 2014437681948051
October 2014308280478339
November 2014146588038687
December 2014920114299047
January 20152010593169360
February 20151538495809592
March 201517054101909750
April 20151316698249875
May 20159027992210036
June 20153924961110273
July 2015212901071710560
August 201585721118310865
September 201559241143411176
October 201539431132011454
November 201518741142711681
December 20158471155711861
January 2016271061229011970
February 2016211731252311986
March 2016200961153411902
April 2016148471206511751
May 2016101251126311617
June 201641431112411581
July 2016224621176211613
August 201697811194511655
September 201658421155511615
October 201638311197611468
November 201618461115111255
December 20166791013711034
January 2017266681135910851
February 2017169051045410725
March 2017171801088610633
April 2017134271067210543
May 201795811042210451
June 20173585984510362
July 2017213161071910269
August 201781051007310175
September 201748281010410069
October 20173255102709985
November 2017159497359913
December 201760191399860
January 201825813106859854
February 201816501100949901
March 20181608898219960
April 201811557967210012
May 201893621011210007
June 20183716103369920
July 20182074398099814
August 2018768196109727
September 2018439796159667
October 2018287491439669
November 201816479946
December 201877811101
January 2019222799519
Table 4: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classJanuary 2018December 2018January 2019Monthly % change
New vehicles    
New private cars 10,68511,1019,519-14.3
New goods vehicles 2,1572,0461,947-4.8
New tractors 1631871985.9
New motor cycles 121151139-7.9
New exempt vehicles 48539948922.6
New other 111224154-31.3
Total new vehicles 13,72214,10812,446-11.8
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 8,2488,3178,3310.2
Used goods vehicles 1,2371,2451,3276.6
Used tractors 1932002189.0
Used motorcycles 243341319-6.5
Used other vehicles 46848555013.4
Total used vehicles 10,38910,58810,7451.5
Total all vehicles 24,11124,69623,191-6.1
X-axis label20152016201720182019 to date
<1 year old1.
1-2 years old11.113.216.718.315.3
3-5 years old50.447.849.250.848.8377813307096
6-9 years old27.729.727.324.429.4
Over 10 years old9.

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 5: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time
Private cars2015201620172018Jan 2019
Used (imported) 47,21770,13892,50899,4568,131
% used (imported)28.1%33.1%42.1%45.1%26.7%
Table 6: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by fuel type
Fuel typeNew Used (imported)
January January
20182019 20182019
Petrol9,4378,882 1,3341,545
Diesel14,40710,814 6,2595,951
Electric77607 5946
Hybrid1,8921,976 373588
Other00 01
Total25,81322,279 8,0258,131

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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