I've used the above headline very deliberately. The headlines on local news outlets have been very negative regarding the proposed changes to vehicle duty. Manx Radio went with "Prepare to pay higher road tax", IOM Today have "Car tax hike shelved", Energy FM have the more neutral "DoI withdraws new car tax pricing system" but focus on the increases in the short article. Only 3FM looked at the positive aspect in their original Feb 16 article "Electric vehicle supporters welcome tax slash".
Reading through the proposal there would be an increase for many car owners with vehicles taxed on engine size, if first registered before 1st April 2010, of between £1 and £31. However, most articles and discussions on social media ignore the benefits for owners of EVs, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, classic cars and welfare vehicles. The proposed increases affected older vehicles taxed on their engine size, with those taxed on emissions seeing zero or small increases. Although, strangely, the higher emission band saw a decrease.
The new proposal was by no means perfect but EVIOM were glad to see some progress from an EV perspective, which this blog is unapologetically biased toward. The existence of modern zero emission EVs had been acknowledged and EVs registered in category 'L' were to pay £0. Whatever you call it, this is a "road tax" and there is the question of whether EVs should be exempt. In answer to that we'd say that once more than half the vehicles on the road are zero and/or ultra low emission it won't be sustainable to have a zero or very low rate of duty. However, we are a very long way from that tipping point and until we get there cleaner vehicles must be encouraged for the sake of health and the environment locally and globally.
The Order was withdrawn by Minister Harmer as he thought the majority of the Legislative Council would vote against it. It would seem that government isn't willing to make changes that could prove unpopular with some and again prove the lack of commitment to environmental issues and reducing emissions.
The Department has outlined the principles behind its proposals and supplied supporting information, comparisons and examples. However, it is clear that some Tynwald Members still have questions, so I am happy to organise a briefing to provide a fuller understanding of the changes and the alternatives
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK
To be clear, EVIOM has at no point asked for EVs to be exempt from paying any kind of duty. What we have been asking for is parity with other vehicles of the same type but propelled by other means. To us it would make sense to categorise a vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, as category B in the lower emissions band. Once the older, more polluting vehicles age out and are removed from our roads the duty paid for this band would have to increase to maintain revenue for the island's road infrastructure.
Ideally EVIOM would have liked EVs to be categorised by the type of vehicle they are rather than all lumped together. Also, some government documentation states that a driver must be over 21 to drive a vehicle in category 'L'. These are issues the DOI had not addressed in this new proposal, but we hoped this would be the first step.
EVIOM has also been made aware that it's a bit of a lottery when registering an EV or PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), with some vehicle owners paying five times more than others for the same car! It does seem very strange to us that the category of a vehicle for the purposes of both taxation and driving licenses should be open to interpretation.
As always, please leave your comments below.