Vehicle manufacturers have been consulting with the Government in preparation for a potential overhaul to the vehicle taxation system in the UK. 

A move towards more taxation influence for air quality, particulates and NOx emissions, rather than a sole focus on CO2, is gaining ground as the Government consults with carmakers and takes inspiration from policies coming through in European cities. 

Ken Ramirez, UK managing director of Renault, said the firm, which is a leader in electric cars, had been approached by the Government to consult on the current regime. 

“We have been asked to give our opinion on where we see this going,” he told BusinessCar.

“Is there a better way than what we do today? Yes there is. 

“Most important is what is it that the consumer would benefit from the most? This is what we’re asking the Government to look at. 

“The challenge really is about what is the benefit to the environment; but is total cost of ownership friendly [too]?” continued Ramirez.

“You need to mix this all together – not just the monetary benefit to the consumer but the environment as well. All the right things have been asked, so I’m quite confident.” 

The moves could be accelerated thanks to the European Commission launching legal proceedings against the UK over its failure to reduce local air pollution after 15 years of warnings.

The UK has been given two months to respond to the EU notification, with London joined by 15 other cities or regions cited as problem areas.

Lexus’s European boss Alain Uyttenhoven predicted that a focus on NOx and local air pollution could be driven by individual cities and regions, rather that European or national legislation.

“It might not be the whole of Europe but cities – I believe cities may act in a very independent way in the future away from EU regulation,” he told BusinessCar.

“One day, everyone will have low-CO2 like they do now with four- or five-star Euro NCAP crash test results, so people will find new ways to measure pollution, and particulates will be that.”

Lance Bradley, UK managing director of Mitsubishi, agreed that more localised low-emission zones could be on the cards as the Government was likely to take inspiration from European cities. 

“If you look at what’s happening in Europe there are a number of cities that require zero-emissions vehicles or have times when you can only use a zero-emissions vehicle,” he said.

“The clean city bit is quite possible and I suspect the thing that’s stopping somewhere like Manchester [which rejected a local congestion charge] doing it is that there aren’t enough cars available at the moment that would meet the requirements.”