New Taxes to Kill to Second-Hand Car Sales?

It is no secret that numerous government agencies and officials want to further reduce emissions at any cost, even if that means penalising car owners who cannot afford to buy new vehicles. The recently announced ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ) set to come into play in 2019 is evidence enough. What those in favour of the special zones do not seem to be taking into account is that the new ‘toxin tax’ associated with the zones could very well kill second-hand car sales in Britain.

The government plans to initiate the ULEZ plan in 2019, in key urban areas throughout the UK. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among the first to jump on the plan. He announced that London’s city centre would be designated a ULEZ just two years from now. From that point, owners of petrol cars more than 13 years old will join owners of diesel cars more than four years old in paying a £12.50 per day fee to drive in the area. But it gets worse.

Rumours suggest that the Autumn Budget will include higher taxes on diesel car owners as well. If those rumours prove true, they could be devastating for both the second-hand and a new diesel car markets in the UK. Owners of second-hand cars will rush to offload them, and new-car buyers will be less likely to embrace diesels they know will incur higher taxes once the cars reach a certain age.

Every Manufacturer Will Be Affected

It may be normal for us to think of manufacturers like Vauxhall, Citroen, and Peugeot as being the worst offenders for diesel emissions, but no manufacturer will be spared the toxin taxes in their various forms. Even our favourite German brands like Mercedes and Audi will come under fire.

The worst damage will be done in the diesel market. By the way, that’s by design. Diesel engines are notorious polluters that really cannot be modified in any tangible way to make them less polluting. But if the plan set forth for London is any indication, even older petrol cars will be affected. In theory, an owner of a classic BMW or Jaguar would be just as vulnerable as the typical Volkswagen or Ford owner.

Understandable but Still Unwise

What the government is trying to do with its toxin tax and ULEZ plans is understandable. But at first glance, the plans still appear to be terribly unwise. If the taxes are allowed to escalate – and that’s almost a given with our history of government taxation – second-hand car sales could be wiped out by the simple fact that people would not be able to afford driving used cars. But then what? Many of those same people will not be able to afford new cars either.

Second-hand car sales are critical to keeping Britons mobile. Initiating punitive taxes on owners of second-hand cars as a means of reducing emissions seems terribly short-sighted. It could eventually prove economically damaging as well.


  1. The Sun –
  2. CNBC –

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