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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Aileen O'Carroll (+353) 21 453 5782 Kieran Riordan (+353) 21 453 5320
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 2020

New private cars22,27920,665-1,614-7.2%
New goods vehicles2,6902,544-146-5.4%
Total new vehicles26,37424,545-1,829-6.9%
Used private cars8,1317,683-448-5.5%
Used goods vehicles1,3131,302-11-0.8%
Total used vehicles10,38210,032-350-3.4%

One fifth of new private cars licensed in January 2020 were electric/hybrid

Figure 1 VLFTM - New private cars licensed for the first time
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Electric and hybrid (alternative fuel) vehicles accounted for one fifth (20.8%) of new private cars licensed in January 2020, compared with 11.6% in the same period in 2019. See table 6.

In January 2020, 20,665 new private cars were licensed, a drop of 7.2% compared with January 2019.

The number of used (imported) private cars licensed in January 2020 was 7,683, a decrease of 5.5% when compared with January 2019.


The licensing figures also show that:

  • Toyota (3,329) was the most popular make of new private car licensed followed by Hyundai (2,235), Volkswagen (1,912), Ford (1,647) and Skoda (1,611). Together these five makes represent 51.9% of all new private cars licensed in January 2020. See table 3.
  • In January 2020, 94.6% of new private cars licensed were in the A/B CO2 emissions bands up from 92.7% in the same period in 2019. See table 2.
  • The total number of new vehicles licensed during January 2020 was 24,545 compared with 26,374 during the same month in 2019, a decrease of 6.9%. See table 1.
  • There was a drop of 5.4% in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in January 2020 bringing the total to 2,544.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, new private cars licensed fell by 8.2% in January 2020 compared with December 2019. The number of seasonally adjusted used (imported) private cars licensed decreased by 15.1% over the same period. See table 4 and figure 4.
  • In January 2020, 0.1% of imported private cars licensed were less than one year old (vehicles previously registered abroad in 2020) while 549 (7.1%) were ten years or older. See table 5 and figure 5.
  • Diesel vehicles accounted for 41.0% of all new private cars licensed in January 2020, compared with 48.5% in the same period in 2019. For used (imported) diesel private cars, the percentage licensed was 68.5% in January 2020. This compares with 73.2% 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.
Most popular makes of new cars, January 2020
Toyota 16.1
Hyundai 10.8
Volkswagen 9.3
Ford 8
Skoda 7.8
Most popular makes of new cars, January 2019
Toyota 10.2
Hyundai 12.6
Volkswagen 9.6
Ford 10.3
Skoda 7.1
Table 1: Number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation ClassJanuary
New vehicles
New Private Cars 25,81322,27920,665
New Goods Vehicles 3,0322,6902,544
New Tractors 239292247
New Motor Cycles 148166163
New Exempt Vehicles 751772751
New Other 128175175
Total New Vehicles 30,11126,37424,545
Used (imported) vehicles   
Used private cars 8,0258,1317,683
Used goods vehicles 1,2221,3131,302
Used tractors 197227225
Used motorcycles 185239283
Used other vehicles 399472539
Total used vehicles 10,02810,38210,032
Total all vehicles 40,13936,75634,577
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 2020
BandFuel TypeTotal
PetrolDieselElectricPetrol & electric hybridDiesel & electric hybridPetrol or Diesel plug-in electric hybrid
A 5,0855,1815793,1444542714,461
B 2,4772,5140102005,093
C 2234780301705
D 761680000244
E 1272000084
F 1052070069
G 6300009
Table 3: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by make, January 2020
NewUsed (imported)Total
Audi 6597611,420
BMW 6736631,336
Citroen 173146319
Dacia 45035485
Fiat 4286128
Ford 1,6478902,537
Honda 232262494
Hyundai 2,2354992,734
Jaguar 4456100
Kia 1,3862401,626
Land Rover 24579324
Lexus 15278230
Mazda 379122501
Mercedes Benz 7275231,250
Mini 8385168
Mitsubishi 8587172
Nissan 1,5594742,033
Opel 1821183
Peugeot 9402231,163
Renault 735188923
Seat 61080690
Skoda 1,6111931,804
Ssangyong 415
Subaru 201030
Suzuki 21964283
Tesla 36541
Toyota 3,3294713,800
Vauxhall 0261261
Volkswagen 1,9128722,784
Volvo 252146398
Other 4482126
Total 20,6657,68328,348
The information in this table is available in much greater detail in Databases (see StatBank link below)
X-axis labelUnadjusted dataAdjusted dataTrend
January 20152010593429393
February 20151538495989620
March 201517054102129770
April 20151316698269887
May 20159027990010037
June 20153924962110264
July 2015212901070610548
August 201585721112810854
September 201559241142711173
October 201539431132311465
November 201518741145411704
December 20158471165711891
January 2016271061226111995
February 2016211731256511997
March 2016200961154011897
April 2016148471199211742
May 2016101251126111610
June 201641431113211576
July 2016224621175711609
August 201697811199611643
September 201658421158111599
October 201638311178311456
November 201618461117411253
December 20166791034011044
January 2017266681128610860
February 2017169051061410720
March 2017171801085710606
April 2017134271045210510
May 201795811043310429
June 20173585974110348
July 2017213161086810248
August 201781051011310126
September 201748281018710001
October 2017325597959926
November 2017159495829894
December 201760194379902
January 201825813105249929
February 201816501104979964
March 20181608896709962
April 20181155794199936
May 20189362100619898
June 2018371698939868
July 201820743101849852
August 2018768196009824
September 2018439797989733
October 2018287483049593
November 2018164794629473
December 2018778114549406
January 20192227993149411
February 20191417891739476
March 20191440496669559
April 20191379498269614
May 2019912695619588
June 2019385899309482
July 20191874189459353
August 2019720292459263
September 2019410489339235
October 2019321492309248
November 201916769559
December 20197299680
January 2020206658883
Table 4: Seasonally adjusted number of vehicles licensed for the first time classified by taxation class
Taxation classJanuary 2019December 2019January 2020Monthly % change
New vehicles    
New private cars 9,3149,6808,883-8.2
New goods vehicles 1,9891,9161,871-2.3
New tractors 19214416212.5
New motor cycles 145149145-2.7
New exempt vehicles 506540497-8.0
New other 156193158-18.1
Total new vehicles 12,30212,62211,716-7.2
Used (imported) vehicles    
Used private cars 8,4159,4708,044-15.1
Used goods vehicles 1,3011,2421,2913.9
Used tractors 21819421410.3
Used motorcycles 29927634223.9
Used other vehicles 5505866256.7
Total used vehicles 10,78311,76810,516-10.6
Total all vehicles 23,08524,39022,232-8.8
X-axis label20162017201820192020 to date
<1 year old2.
1-2 years old13.216.718.317.612.7
3-5 years old47.849.250.850.351.2
6-9 years old29.727.324.425.628.9
Over 10 years old7.

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 cars2016201720182019Jan 2020
Used (imported) 70,13892,50899,456108,8957,683
% used (imported)33.1%42.1%45.1%49.0%27.1%
Table 6: Number of new and used (imported) private cars licensed for the first time by fuel type
Fuel typeNew Used (imported)
January January
20192020 20192020
Petrol8,8827,889 1,5451,724
Diesel10,8148,468 5,9515,260
Electric607579 4648
Hybrid1,9763,729 588651
Other00 10
Total22,27920,665 8,1317,683

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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