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Owning used cars will get costly

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A big bang on Czech roads is approaching – as of 1 January, drivers registering an old car will pay an environmental fee that will often exceed the price of the vehicle.

The new fee should concern some 2.5 million cars, or more than half of all passenger cars in the Czech Republic, the Automotive Industry Association (SAP) said.

Used-car dealers have registered that something is going on even though most of them no longer buy out cars manufactured in the early 1990s. “The oldest cars we take were made in 1998. Older vehicles do not pay off,” said Zdeněk Boček of Prague’s Autocentrum Milocar. The number of people who want to sell their old cars is roughly one-third higher compared with last year, he added.

“In recent weeks, we have registered a big interest of people who know about the impacts of the amended law and want to get rid of their old car at the last moment. The reaction is surprisingly strong now,” said Vladan Crha of AAA Auto. The used-car chain will offer a minimum of CZK 10,000 for an old car as of the middle of December, he added.

Unmarketable used cars<
But the fee will also apply to the first registrations of imported used cars not complying with the Euro 3 standard that was introduced in 2000. As a result, imports of very old used cars will decrease and people will put a higher number of old cars out of operation, SAP director Antonín Šípek said.

“Old cars will become virtually unmarketable,” Šípek said. AAA Auto, the largest Czech used-car dealer, has a similar view on the situation. “Next year, cars not complying with basic emission limits will be worthless. Moreover, from 1 January, there will be a duty to conclude third-party insurance for every car, so it will not be possible to leave the old car just somewhere,” said Crha.

Out of more than 4.4 million cars in the Czech Republic, 1.45 million are older than fifteen years and do not therefore meet any of the Euro emission standards. Their owners will pay a CZK 10,000 fee during the first re-registration after 1 January.

One million cars of an average age of 10-15 years only meet the emission limits Euro 1 or Euro 2, introduced in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Registering these vehicles to new owners will cost CZK 3,000 – 5,000.

Šípek said the fee was not anything new. Under the 2001 law on waste, car importers were to pay CZK 5,000 as a contribution to the future environementally-friendly liquidation of the vehicles, he added. The Association welcomes the fees, for it is the first feasible government measure helping achieve at least a partial fleet renovation and reduce imports of very old used cars, Šípek said.

At the same time, however, the government should come up with incentives motivating people to buy new cars, he said. In recent years, 13 EU countries have applied such incentives.

Registration authorities having busy time

The authorities that register vehicles are busy before the end of the year, as people want to avoid the fees.

“But it is not just re-registrations. There will be more things as of 1 January, such as third-party insurance even for cars that nobody drives,” said Václav Býček, head of the vehicle registration department in Strakonice. Those asking for a re-registration account for about a third of all applicants, he added.

Václav Špička of Autoklub ČR said it should be the new owner to pay the fee. “If it is a change in the person that operates the vehicle and the owner remains the same, then the fee should not be paid because it is not a re-registration but just a change in some of the data in the register and in papers,” he added.

The vehicle registration document will be decisive for an assessment of whether or not a car is subject to a fee. If the document does not contain information on compliance with emission limits, then it would probably be necessary to go to an authorised testing room.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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