The total number of licensed (taxed) tractors recorded on Irish roads as of 31 December 2022 stood at 79,486, according to the Irish Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics 2022 report.

This represented a reduction of 4,177 tractors, which equated to a 5% decline on 2021 figures, where 83,663 tractors were taxed for road usage. It also marks the third consecutive year of decline for taxed tractors.

Looking back at the figures over the past 20 years, it shows that the Irish tractor fleet peaked in 2014, at 92,013, while it was at its lowest in 2011 when 69,590 tractors were taxed.

The bulletin is an annual publication released by the Department of Transport, which compiles data up to the end of each calendar year. It deals with all transport vehicles on Irish roads alongside indicating, for example, how many of each particular make of vehicle are taxed across the country.

The publication also includes all of the since discontinued brands which continue to work on Irish farms such as Fiat, Ursus, International, David Brown and Renault.

The report revealed that the total number of taxed vehicles recorded on Irish roads was 2,919,005 at 31 December 2022. This represents an increase of 28,030 vehicles (0.97%) on 2021, following a 1.05% increase on the previous year.

The main components of the vehicle fleet include 2,255,971 private cars, 389,184 goods vehicles, 79,486 tractors, 56,114 vintage vehicles and 47,235 motorcycles.

In second place was New Holland, with 14,800 taxed tractors, accounting for 18.6% of the Irish fleet.

Tractor brand by brand

The data indicates that Massey Ferguson continues to be Ireland’s most popular tractor brand, with a total of 15,220 tractors taxed. This accounts for 19.1% of all taxed tractors in the Republic of Ireland.

Next up, in second place, was New Holland, with 14,800 taxed tractors, accounting for 18.6% of the Irish fleet.

In third was John Deere, with its tally of 12,291 tractors, accounting for 15.5% of the total Irish taxed tractors. Together, the top three most popular brands alone accounted for 53.2% of all tractors taxed on Irish roads.

Case IH/David Brown came in fourth with a tally of 8.5% (6,757 tractors). This was followed by Ford with 4,150 tractors (5.2%), JCB with 3,144 units (4%), Zetor with 2,858 tractors (3.6%), Landini with 2,685 tractors (3.4%), Claas with 2,037 tractors (2.6%) and Deutz with 1,986 tractors (2.5%).

County by county

Cork has the highest number of agricultural tractors, clocking in at 10,996 units, with almost double the fleet of any other county. Next up is Tipperary with 5,650 tractors followed closely by Galway with 4,862 tractors and Wexford with 4,605, who overtook Mayo from 2021 into 2022.

Leitrim has Ireland’s smallest tractor fleet, with 932 units. The county is followed by Louth (1,096) and Longford (1,228) with the lowest number of taxed tractors.

Potential irregularities

In the interest of fairness to all manufacturers, we should point out that the Department’s data features outdated brand classifications which would have an impact on certain brand by brand true figures.

In addition, brands such as JCB, Manitou, Volvo and Terex have been included which would indicate that these figures are including a decent share of loader, telehandler and other agricultural vehicle registrations.

In third was John Deere, with its tally of 12,291 tractors, accounting for 15.5% of the total Irish taxed tractors.

Such an example of classification issues includes both Ford and New Holland. For instance, the later Fords such as the 40 Series may arguably be classed as either Ford or New Holland or even both.

There are classifications for both Valtra and Valmet, which may mean tractors during the transition period could have fallen under either classification.

Likewise, Case IH’s legacy is tied up where we see both Case IH/David Brown in one classification and International in another.

Again, it’s possible that a number of transition period tractors could have fallen under either classification, and that David Brown taxed tractors are skewing the true Case IH figures.

Other vehicles

In terms of cars, Toyota (280,983 units), Volkswagen (276,365 units) and Ford (234,698 units) are the most popular brands, and account for 31% of all cars on Irish roads.

They are followed by Nissan and Hyundai.

Meanwhile, the 2022 sales figures show that Toyota (15,318 units), Hyundai (11,869 units), Volkswagen (11,428 units), Kia (7,549 units), Skoda (7,153 units) and Ford (4,863 units) were the most popular sellers.

The least popular three brands for 2022 included Mitsubishi (four units), Subaru (14 units), SsangYong (98 units) and Jaguar (164 units).

In terms of fuel type, diesel remains the most popular fuel for Irish road users, accounting for 41% of vehicles, which is down from 64.31% of all vehicles the previous year.

This is followed by petrol which accounts for 25.31% of the Irish fleet, down from 30.74% in 2021. Petrol/electric hybrid now account for 14.76% (20,259 vehicles), up from just 2.89% in 2021. This is followed by electric at 11.85% (16,268 vehicles), up from less than 1% in 2021.