The Icelandic vehicle fleet has grown by an average of 4 percentage points since 1995. The number of vehicles classified as cars and motorcycles registered for road transportation has grown from 132 thousand to 309 thousand. A minor reduction occurred in the first two years following the economic crash in 2008. From 2015 car registrations have begun to increase again. . Households operate the largest proportion of these vehicles. The proportion shrunk, however, from 89.6% in 1995 to 74.3% in 2016. The proportion of car rental companies (NACE Rev.2 segment N) peaked in 2017 when they operated 9.8% of all vehicles.


Household vehicles are mainly powered by gasoline. The number of gasoline powered vehicles has been largely unchanged since 2007, whereas the number of vehicles powered by diesel or other fuel has grown. In business sectors outside the rental and specialized services segment (N), the number of diesel-powered vehicles superceded the number of gasoline powered vehicles in 2007. Since then, the number of gasoline vehicles has declined while the number of diesel-powered vehicles has risen. The number of vehicles powered by electricity and plug-in hybrid vehicles was barely noticeable as a fraction of the total until 2018, when 7,445 vehicles of that type were registered, or 2.4% of the total fleet.The largest proportion of these vehicles are operated by households.

Number of vehicles growing faster than population growth
The ratio of vehciles operated by households per thousand inhabitants has grown from 1995 to 2018. That is, the number of vehicles grows faster than the number of inhabitants in Iceland.

Table 1: Population (in January) per vehicle registered as in operation by households (in August)
Population 1. january/thousands267.0268.0272.4279.0286.6290.6299.9315.5317.6319.6325.7332.5348.5
Number of vehicles in households/thousands119.1122.7134.0151.7155.3164.3183.8198.2192.8194.7198.3208.2229.5
Vehicles per 1000 inhabitants446.1457.9491.9543.6541.8565.3612.8628.2607.1609.2608.8626.1658.7

Households vehicles consume the majority of fuel distributed from gas stations
The median August-to-August driving distance of vehicles operated by households is similar to the median distance in most economic segments. The average vehicle weight is, however, significantly greater in some economic segments, requiring more fuel per driven kilometer. Even though households operated 74.3% of vehicles in 2018, their fuel consumption was only 58% of the total fuel consumed throughout the fleet, or 84% of gasoline and 41% of other fuel. Companies in the transportation and storage segment (NACE rev.2 H) operated 1.5% of the fleet in 2018 but consumed 9% of the total fuel. Rental companies (N) and construction and mining (B and F) each consumed 9% of the total fuel in 2018.


The gasoline consumption of households has gone down considerably since 2006. At the same time, diesel and other fuel consumption has increased. Thus, the total fuel consumption of households in 2018 was nearly the same as the consumption in 2006. The total consumption was lower in the intervening years.

Table 2: Calculated fuel consumption by type of fuel and user classification
Transport and storage (H)
Rental oprerations and other specialized services4.
Construction and mining (B, F)
Other operations18.013.612.711.19.69.710.2
Diesel and other fuelsHouseholds55.843.448.850.452.067.981.2
Transport and storage (H)12.921.
Rental oprerations and other specialized services14.819.714.512.612.518.123.5
Construction and mining (B, F)
Other operations26.827.223.323.824.135.744.7

There has been some discussion on road driving by tourists and and how it may affects the strain on the environment and road infrastructure. The data published here shows that the median year driving distance by gasoline operated vehicles in the rental segment (rental cars) was 8,000 km greater than the median for household vehicles. The difference in vehicles powered by diesel or other fuel was greater, or 9,000 km, although the relative difference is less.

Table 3: Median driving distance in kmin 2018 by energy source and sector
 GasolineDiesel and other fuelsElectric and plug-in
Households9,124 13,455 15,658
Transportation and storage (H)9,444 18,986 10,748
Rentals and other specialized services (N)17,512 22,419
Construction and mining (B, F)10,070 14,510 13,148

Median driving distances for electric and plug-in vehicles could be influenced by the fact that very few vehicles of this type have been inspected in 2018. There will most likely be a change in these numbers when more vehicles will be inspected.

About the data
These statistics are based on data collected from the Transport Authority (Samgöngustofa) and the Icelandic Energy Authority (Orkustofnun). The processed data is available via the online repository at Statistics Iceland. The dataset is classified by:

1) Year, referring to the period from August of the previous year to August of the reported year. This choice was made in order to have a more relevant overview of the market before the majority of ownership transfers occur.
2) ÍSAT2008 (NACE rev.2) class of the registered operator OR the registered owner of the vehicle. The NACE class is determined by the national registry of companies and reflects the primary operation of the company.
3) Fuel category. Gasoline refers to vehicles powered by gasoline consuming engines or hybrid engines that do not have factory- installed capacity for external charging of batteries. Vehicles solely powered by electricity, or those that are hybrid vehicles with a factory-installed capacity for external charging are classified as electric vehicles. All other vehicles are classified as diesel or other fuel.

Published measurements
1) Number of vehicles. No distinction is made on the EC vehicle size category. Vehicles that are registered for road-use (not off-road, tractors, or snow vehicles) are considered. Statistics Iceland also publishes the number of rental vehicles every month as a measurement of the tourism segment. These numbers are based on data from the Transportation Authority’s classification of vehicle usage and do not consider the NACE segments.
2) Median driving distance. Information from annual inspections was collected from the Transportation Authority. Missing values were imputed by a statistical model that considered the make of the vehicle, usage class, energy class, size of engine, vehicle weight, manufacturing year, and first year of registration. In cases where company operations are directly linked to vehicle operations, the company turnover was considered as well.
3) Average weight of vehicles (in kg). This information was collected from the Transportation Authority as well as from information gathered from vehicle manufacturers. Missing information was imputed using a statistical model based on other known vehicle properties.
4) Fuel consumption of vehicles (in thousand kg). The fuel consumption of each vehicle was calculated based on its known or imputed driving distance and fuel consumption from the manufacturer or a physical model based on vehicle weight, engine size (power), and fuel consumed. For freight carriers and tractor trailers, an additional freight weight of 10% of maximum haul and a trailer were added. The model was iterated until the calculated fuel consumption for the entire fleet was within 5% of the fuel distributed from gas stations over a two-year window.

Vehicles and energy required
Population statistics for Iceland
Numer car-rental vehicles by month