Motor Vehicle Census

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The Motor Vehicle Census (MVC) collects information on the number and characteristics of vehicles registered on a certain date. These characteristics include the vehicle type, year of manufacture, fuel used, make, model (for the major makes of passenger vehicles manufactured since 1980), weight, State of registration and postcode of the registered owner.

    The MVC is primarily used as a frame for the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use. In addition there is a strong demand for motor vehicle data from all sectors of the economy, including the transport industry, vehicle and parts manufacturers and distributors, insurance companies and governments.


    The statistics include:

    • all vehicles registered for unrestricted use on public roads;
    • vehicles with diplomatic or consular plates; and
    • State and Commonwealth owned vehicles.

    Excluded are:
    • vehicles belonging to the defence forces;
    • recreation vehicles (such as trail bikes or dune buggies) intended for off-road use in those States where registration is required;
    • certain vehicles which use public roads but are exempt from normal registration requirements, eg fire engines and/or ambulances in certain States and Territories (the extent to which these vehicles are excluded varies between the States and Territories);
    • Commonwealth Government vehicles prior to 1985;
    • vehicles used solely on farms, in mines, etc and not used on public roads; and
    • from 1993, some agricultural tractors, which were previously classified with plant and equipment.


    Registration statistics are obtained from Commonwealth, State and Territory Motor Vehicle Registration authorities and reflect the information recorded in registration documents.


    Conceptual framework

    Main outputs
    Vehicle type by make and model by fuel used by year of manufacture by weight by state of registration and postcode of the registered owner.

    State = 9 categories including Other Territories
    Make = 420
    Model = 5310
    Body type = 31 categories
    Seating capacity = 106 categories
    Postcode = 3700 categories
    Area of registration = 5 categories
    Year of Manufacture = 133 categories
    Fuel type = 9 categories
    Number of cylinders = 9 categories
    Engine capacity = 29 categories
    Tare = 20 categories
    Gross vehicle mass (GVM) = 50 categories
    Gross combination mass (GCM) = 53 categories
    Heavy vehicle code = 106 categories
    No of axles = 17 categories

    Other concepts (summary)

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Division
    Australia Post Postcode

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    The smallest area available is postcode of registered owner. Theoretically this can be aggregated to approximate any geographic area.


    Frequency comments
    The MVC was conducted every three years until 1991 and then in 1993, 1995. With the exception of 2000, a MVC has been conducted annually from 1996.

    The first MVC was conducted as at 30 September 1971 with subsequent censuses occurring in 1976, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, at 30 June 1993, at 31 May 1995, at 31 October 1996, at 31 October 1997, 31 October 1998, 31 October 1999, 31 March 2001 and each year after.

    Changes to the classification of vehicle type have occurred several times:

    • in 1983 small bus type vehicles changed from panel vans to buses in NSW;
    • in 1991 tractors were included with plant and equipment;
    • in 1991 the Third Australian Design Rules (3ADRs) defining vehicle types was implemented; a new processing system (TUSS) was introduced; and decoding of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) was introduced. As a result there were classification changes affecting passenger vehicles, light and heavy commercial vehicles and buses; data accuracy and quality was improved; and a more accurate model description was available for passenger vehicles manufactured from 1989;
    • in 1996, the National Heavy Vehicle Registration Scheme was introduced across all states resulting in a new national registration fee for all heavy vehicles after June 1996. Heavy Vehicles are defined as vehicles with a Mass General Rating over 4.5 tonnes. The advantage to the ABS is that Rigid and Articulated trucks are more easily defined with the consequent improvement in data quality.


    Data availability comments
    Information is published annually. There are data cubes available as well as data available on request.

    13/09/2005 10:55 AM