9309.0 - Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/08/2012   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

The Motor Vehicle Census collates vehicles which were registered with a motor vehicle registration authority at 31 January 2012. The data is collected under the legislation of each state and territory for the purposes of licensing vehicles to drive on public roads and the collection of third party insurance.


The Motor Vehicle Census includes all vehicles registered with a state, territory or other government 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.

Vehicles on register are defined as those vehicles registered at the date of the census, or had registration expire less than one month before that date. Data reflects the information as recorded in registration documents.

Motor Vehicle Censuses have been conducted regularly since 1971 but not every year and not always at the same time of the year. Refer to paragraph 2 of the Explanatory Notes for a list of snapshot dates from 1971. Explanatory Notes

Data are classified geographically by state or territory of registration and postcode of owner.


The snapshot date for the annual Motor Vehicle Census is currently 31 January of the reference year. The statistics are generally released within 8 months of the snapshot being taken.


The primary use of the MVC is as a frame for the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU). Editing of the data is designed to maximise data quality to the level required for the SMVU. The Motor Vehicle Census is collected as an administrative data by-product from the state and territory motor vehicle registries. The size of the registered motor vehicle fleet (above 16 million vehicles) dictates that quality assurance of each record is not possible, however, considerable effort is made by the ABS, to improve data quality with consistency checks and comparisons.

While the data are made available at a detailed level, the ABS is unable to guarantee that it is necessarily sufficient for all purposes for which it is used .There is also some variation in the reporting from different state and territory registries and care should be taken when comparing data across jurisdictions. Data items where conversions (eg. fuel type or reconfigurations), of vehicles have occurred, may not be accurately reported or recorded at the Registry.


The types of fuel being used for motor vehicles has undergone change over the years. Leaded petrol is no longer available for sale, however, some older vehicles are still recorded as this fuel type by the MVRs. The number of hybrid and electric vehicles are increasing, however not all state and territory MVRs currently identify these vehicle types separately.

Statistics from the annual MVC are comparable to previous censuses. Data from the MVC when categorised by year of manufacture can be confronted with Sales of New Motor Vehicles, Australia, cat. no. 9314.0. The MVC is used as a frame for the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, Australia cat. no. 9208.0.


The Motor Vehicle census publication contains detailed Introductory Notes, Explanatory Notes and Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.


In addition to the information provided in the publication, a series of data cubes are also available from the ABS website. The data cubes are accessed using the SuperTABLE product.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, then ABS Consultancy Services can help you with customised services to suit your needs. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070