Mike Waters' Blog: 8 August 2008 - How we drive
08 August 2008
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
Government is receiving a fair amount of flack around a new report that highlights its plans to raise VED, a move that for many of us will increase the costs of owning a car.
Expected to affect an estimated nine million motorists, many are questioning the environmental credentials of the move.
The changes will generate a rise in the number of payment bands from seven to 13, with all cars purchased after 2001 in scope. The maximum cost for vehicles with the highest emissions will be £455 for 2009/10, while there will be no charge for owners of the least polluting.
As a consequence, official estimates say that vehicle excise duty will rise for 43% of vehicles made since 2001 in what Ministers are touting as a move that will encourage motorists to change their cars for less-polluting models.
What's more, the Government is getting it in the neck from both sides as while motorists are angered by yet another increase to the cost of owning a car, MP's are moaning the change doesn't do enough to encourage drivers to buy cleaner models.
Now don't get me wrong, I am a big supporter of greener driving, but my problem is that this is a tax on car ownership and not a tax on car use. Many people have high polluting sports cars but if they are driving low mileages each year then they are probably harming the environment less than a driver doing 15,000 miles in something more economical.
For some journeys the car is the only viable alternative, and cars form a key element of any overall travel plan. My fear is that this move will do nothing to promote modal choice or encourage drivers to tailor their preferred method of transport based on the journey.
A Treasury spokesman defended the scheme, saying the new plans would encourage people to use more environmentally friendly cars as well as saving 1.3m tonnes of CO2 by 2020.
However, my view is that the Government needs to consider that what we drive isn't the only factor, and making drivers pay more for a car they already own isn't going to help the environment.
The focus needs to shift onto how we drive and how much we drive, two things that can potentially have a greater impact.