"Take control," SMTA tells Westminster 08 | 01 | 2019

    THE SCOTTISH MOTOR Trade Association has called on policy makers in the Westminster Government to take control of the taxation situation which is confusing car buyers. The call, by SMTA chief executive Sandy Burgess, comes in the wake of new car registrations in Scotland falling 8.18% last year, from 203,323 in 2017 to 186,683. (Related: Scots new car registrations fall 8.18%)

    And the trade boss for the automotive industry in Scotland, which generates in excess of £3 billion of business annually, highlighted a number of problem areas — including the continued anti-diesel movement, new WLTP testing, Brexit, and the reduction in funding support by the Government for electric or alternative fuelled cars — he believes are responsible for what he labelled a ‘turbulent year’. (Related: Vauxhall tops Scots sales charts)

    “Clearly the market as had a very turbulent year with the effects of the introduction of the WLTP regime testing, new vehicle excise taxation impacts coming in on UK registered vehicles, and the continued anti-diesel movement,” Burgess said.

    “In addition, there have been recent changes to the provision of funding support from the UK Government for those wishing to purchase electric and/or alternative fuelled vehicles. These have all had a negative impact on the consumers, and all the above is before the Brexit debate/fiasco is taken into the consideration.

    “With the new vehicle market facing the above cocktail of challenges to growth, it is little wonder we have seen continual see-saw results for the last 12 months. To allow the market to settle for the future, some of these issues have to be dealt with head on.”

    And Burgess highlighted the imbalance of focus and attention which is being driven towards the growth of the electric vehicle market, specifically in Scotland.

    “The rise of the electric vehicle is often noted as experiencing significant growth in percentages,” he continued. “Perhaps we need to highlight just exactly where we are with this technology, and understand the role that other fuels must play in the progression to what is an admirable ambition to reduce the harmful outputs of pollutants across our major cities and towns.

    “However, the truth has to be understood to enable the consumer to make a balanced decision with regards to their future travel planning:

    1. The rise for the registrations of electric vehicles in Scotland last year was a stunning 16.38% year-on-year. However, that represents only 1051 units or .56% of one percent against the whole Scottish market.

    2. Petrol/plug-in hybrids did even better, with growth year-on-year of 60.71%. However, again this only represented 1.2% of the total market.

    3. Other alternative fuelled vehicles accounted for a 39.71% growth and represented 2.95% of the total market.
“So in essence, yes, the market is growing for these vehicles. However this may not last much longer as the UK Government saw fit to reduce the support on pure electric new cars and remove completely the support for plug in hybrids Someone must know why? I don’t.

    “With a real desire, like many, to support the ambitions of the Scottish Government for a cleaner, safer society, we all have a responsibility to embrace the need for change. Our industry accepts the need for these changes to take place and agreed it should start as soon as possible.

    “However, this must be made on a number of fronts, and reducing subsidies and support on a market that has yet to mature is not one of them.

    “Additional taxation on the use of newer and cleaner diesel cars is again totally illogical, especially when you understand that the Vehicle Excise Duty scheme in its current format will discourage the driver of an old, polluting diesel car from buying a newer cleaner and more efficient model.

    “We would call on the UK Government to take control of the situation — as this is not a devolved subject — as the confusion caused by its lack of direction and guidance has damaged the market long enough.

    “The SMTA has met with the Scottish Government recently and transmitted these views, and we are now having further meaningful discussions around the unique challenges we have in Scotland in meeting the 2032 ambitions.”

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    Jim McGill

    NOTE: Scotland is to ‘phase out’ the sale of new cars and vans powered solely by petrol and diesel by 2032, eight years before the UK Government target. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also revealed the creation of low emissions zones in Scotland’s four largest cities by 2020. The move puts Scotland on the same ‘green’ timeline as Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens.

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