The last budget speech saw an increase in car tax and a 2p rise in fuel costs effective from October 2008. Critics believe that these increases will put a strain on car drivers who are already paying the highest ever prices for fuel, another bone of contention is whether the tax cuts for greener cars will encourage drivers to consider cleaner transport.
The only good news for drivers that came out of the budget changes was that the Chancellor decided to delay to 2p increase on fuel prices until October 2008, however since the cost of fuel is already at an all time high currently at 106.1p per liter.
Ashton Berkhauer, an insurance expert at uSwitch.com said: “The budget announcement may prove a bitter pill to swallow for Britain’s 41.7 million motorists. Only those drivers opting for the least polluting vehicles, currently representing just 0.2% of all cars on the road will be incentivised.”
The head of insurance.co.uk, Steve Grainger said: “For those who are already stretching to meet petrol prices, October will arrive all too quickly.”
There has been a lot of speculation in recent months that the highest polluting vehicles will start to face penalties and environmentally friendly drivers will be rewarded. So the announcement that from 2010 drivers with the most environmentally friendly vehicles will not pay any tax in their first year was no surprise. The most polluting vehicles can expect to see an increase in the price of their tax, Band G vehicles are expected to see an increase of 233% from £300 to £1,000 in the first year.
Berkhauer said: “Drivers of green vehicles are best off financially. Our research shows that eco-friendly car owners currently save £165.40 a year on fuel compared to those driving standard cars. The increase in October will boost this saving to almost £170 a year.”
“The new proposal could see larger family cars, such as the Renault Espace, being subjected to the same tax as a new Lamborghini Gallardo. An extra £1,000 may be small change to a Lamborghini buyer considering the £126,350 price tag. However, this could be a real strain on an average family’s budget.”
It is estimated that Britain’s roads will house 55,900 green cars by the end of 2008, although this only makes up 0.2% of all UK registered vehicles.
Some critics are disappointed that the Chancellor hasn’t done more to encourage green transport. Tescocompare.com’s spokesman Matthew Dransfield said: “We fully support today’s announcement to encourage consumers to be more environmentally conscious when buying a car. However, we are disappointed that the Chancellor did not look wider to the cost barriers for purchasing green cars and consider cutting Insurance Premium Tax for these cars as an added incentive to go green.”
Car insurance for a green car can cost £50 more than a non-green car of a similar size and with similar features because it costs more to repair green cars. Dransfield explained: “With the average car insurance premium being £400 – the removal of the 5% insurance premium tax on ‘green’ cars would make the cost of insuring one equivalent to a similar standard car. Motorists can do a lot to cut their carbon emissions as well as their insurance costs by reducing annual mileage, having their car serviced regularly, regularly checking tire pressure and limiting the amount of time spent idling, all of which will increase fuel efficiency and decrease carbon emissions.”
There are a couple of car insurers who offer special policies for green vehicles and customer’s attitudes towards green vehicles are changing dramatically meaning that more insurers will need to offer reasonable policy prices for green vehicles.
By: Christian Ward
About the Author: