Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
9309.0 - Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Mar 2010 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/02/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product



1 This publication presents statistics relating to vehicles which were registered with a motor vehicle registration authority at 31 March 2010.

2 Motor Vehicle Censuses (MVC) have been conducted periodically from 1971 on each of the following dates:

      2010, 31 March
      2009, 31 March 1997, 31 October
      2008, 31 March 1996, 31 October
      2007, 31 March 1995, 30 May
      2006, 31 March 1993, 30 June
      2005, 31 March 1991, 30 September
      2004, 31 March 1988, 30 September
      2003, 31 March 1985, 30 September
      2002, 31 March 1982, 30 September
      2001, 31 March 1979, 30 September
      1999, 31 October 1976, 30 September
      1998, 31 October 1971, 30 September


3 The Motor Vehicle Census includes all vehicles registered with a state or territory motor vehicle registry for unrestricted use on public roads with the following exceptions:
  • recreational vehicles such as trail bikes and sand dune buggies intended for off-road use in most states and territories (in Victoria and Queensland these vehicles must be registered and are thus included in the statistics);
  • consular vehicles; and
  • vehicles registered by the defence forces.

4 Vehicles on register are defined as those vehicles registered at the date of the census, or which had registration expire less than one month before that date.

5 Motor vehicle registration statistics are derived from data made available by various state and territory motor vehicle registration authorities and reflect the information as recorded in registration documents.

6 Vintage and veteran vehicles are excluded from vehicle counts in the published data, but are available for consultancy data requests. These vehicles are identified using a unique insurance code, with the following exceptions:
  • in New South Wales this insurance code is not provided and it is not possible to separately identify these vehicles. Therefore veteran and vintage vehicles are included in the number of registered vehicles for New South Wales.
  • while Victoria does provide an insurance code for these vehicles, this insurance code also applies to tractors, motorcycles and self propelled farm machinery owned by primary producers and used solely in connection with the business of a primary producer. These records are deemed out of scope. (Note: tractors and motor cycles not used solely in connection with the business of a primary producer have a different insurance code which deems them in scope.) Therefore, the number of veteran and vintage vehicles cannot be obtained for Victoria.

7 The estimated proportion of motor vehicles, excluding motor cycles, taken off the register since the previous MVC is referred to as the attrition rate. The attrition rates in the following table have been calculated using Motor Vehicle Census and New Motor Vehicle Sales data. Motor cycles are excluded from the attrition rate calculation as they are not included in New Motor Vehicle Sales data.

ESTIMATED ATTRITION, State/territory, Census years

Between 2005 and 2006
Between 2006 and 2007
Between 2007 and 2008
Between 2008 and 2009
Between 2009 and 2010

214 431.0
217 518.0
178 856.0
256 868.0
197 826.0
171 489.0
179 505.0
178 750.0
176 676.0
165 499.0
98 452.0
97 337.0
107 629.0
105 556.0
135 271.0
40 073.0
45 253.0
43 554.0
36 588.0
35 204.0
38 310.0
46 866.0
61 171.0
38 675.0
68 840.0
8 272.0
13 258.0
10 679.0
10 111.0
9 661.0
5 925.0
5 649.0
5 983.0
4 761.0
4 034.0
10 799.0
10227 R
4.3 R
10 554.0
11 073.0
9 206.0
587 751.0
615613 R
4.1 R
597 176.0
640 308.0
625 541.0


8 The 2010 Motor Vehicle Census is a count of all in-scope vehicles registered with a state or territory motor vehicle registration authority (MVR) at 31 March 2010. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) receives the data from the individual motor vehicle registration authorities. At this stage all records are compared to the previous MVC data for vehicles that match (on-going registrations) and relevant details are updated for these vehicles. The matching is based primarily on a unique identifier given by the registries to each record. After the primary match is done, a secondary match is run based on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), engine number and chassis number to improve the number of matched records.

9 The unmatched records (new vehicle registrations) undergo editing of such items as bodycode, make, model, year of manufacture, weight, heavy vehicle code, postcode and fuel. See Technical Note 1: 2010 System and Processing Changes.

10 The editing of on-going registrations is limited as these records have been edited in past years. Aggregate data is checked across time, states and vehicle types to ensure coherency.


11 The size of the registered motor vehicle fleet (over 16 million vehicles) dictates that quality assurance of each record is not possible. Considerable effort is made, both by motor vehicle registration authorities and the ABS, to improve data quality. This is achieved through internal checks to ensure the vehicle counts track consistently in a time series when compared to previous MVCs. However, there remains some variation in the reporting from different state and territory registries and hence care should still be taken when comparing data across jurisdictions.

12 While the data are made available at a detailed level, the quality of this detailed data is less certain, therefore the ABS is unable to guarantee that it is necessarily sufficient for all purposes for which it is used.

13 Each year, for new vehicle registrations, vehicle model description for each Registry is converted to a standard ABS model. This is necessary as model descriptions can vary between Registries. Some vehicles have a blank model and these are coded to 'model unknown'. See Technical Note 1: 2010 System and Processing Changes for more detail.

Data confrontation

14 There are no data sources available in which to directly assess the quality of MVC data, new motor vehicle sales data and population data provide an indication of data quality as they give some context to the size of the motor vehicle fleet. Assessing the quality of data by comparison against other datasets is known as data confrontation. The ABS has been using sales of new motor vehicles data and estimated resident population (ERP) data to 'confront' MVC data for several years.

New Motor Vehicle Sales (NMVS)

15 Sales of new motor vehicles can be compared with data from the MVC based upon the year of manufacture. The following assumptions have been made:

  • vehicles manufactured in one year are not available for sale until after 31 March of that year;
  • vehicles manufactured in one year are sold as new vehicles until at least 31 March of the following year;
  • vehicles sold over recent years will remain on the MVC year after year.

16 Therefore, it can be assumed that vehicles manufactured in 2009 (as reflected in 2010 MVC data) would most likely have been sold in the period between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010 (as captured by sales of new motor vehicles data). Similarly, vehicles manufactured in 2008 would have been sold between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009, and so on.

17 Figures for NMVS by year have shown to be generally comparable with the number of registered vehicles by year of manufacture on the MVC.

Estimated Resident Population (ERP)

18 Over the past few years, strong motor vehicle sales have meant that the growth in motor vehicle registrations has been higher than the growth in ERP. However, growth in MVC and ERP has tended to be in the same direction.


19 Geographic data available from the MVC are postcode of owner and state or territory of registration.

20 If analysis of regional data based on postcodes is being undertaken, the following considerations need to be taken into account:
  • there are some instances where the postcode of the vehicle's owner is in a different state or territory from that in which the vehicle was registered. For example, the postcode of the owner of the vehicle could be in Sydney, yet the vehicle could be registered in Queensland;
  • some official postcodes (PO boxes, competition postcodes) do not correspond to residential areas;
  • some postcodes could be invalid.


21 The MVC snapshot date has been 31 March since 2001. From 2011, the snapshot date will change to 31 January each year. This is due to a change in reference period for the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU), for which the MVC provides the survey frame. The time period covered by the SMVU will be changed in 2011, from the 12 month period ending 31 October to the 12 month period ending 30 June. Therefore, the MVC snapshot date needs to occur earlier each year in order for the SMVU frame to be available when required.


22 This publication draws extensively on information provided freely by the state and territory motor vehicle registration authorities. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, many of the transport statistics published by the ABS would not be available.


23 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications and products which contain information relating to motor vehicles in Australia:


24 As well as the statistics included in this publication, the ABS has other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2016

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.