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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The Order was withdrawn by Minister Harmer as he thought the majority of the Legislative Council would vote against it.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.

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In an attempt to seek a balance between supporting local business and protecting the environment the Department of Infrastructure will be revising the charges for vehicle duty on the Isle of Man. In the April sitting of Tynwald Minister Ray Harmer MHK will bring the proposed measures before Members.

Most of the proposed changes relate to decreasing the amount paid by commercial vehicle operators on the island a well as attempting to better align duty paid based on engine capacity to that charged on CO2 emissions.

EVIOM has, for a number of years, been campaigning for a favourable change in duty paid by zero emission electric vehicles. It has been our view that EVs should pay duty based on emissions in the same way that other vehicles do. So we are pleased to report that the Vehicle Duty Order 2017 will include an exemption for zero emission electric vehicles.

The revenue collected from vehicle duty contributes to the millions of pounds invested in the road network, which in turn supports the economic success and social wellbeing of our Island

Ray Harmer MHK

We believe that applying a zero rate of vehicle duty for zero emission vehicles is the right move, at this time. Briefly skimming the comments section of articles reporting on this, it's clear a few don't agree. Money does need to be reinvested into the road network from vehicle duty and the most polluting vehicles should be discouraged by a higher rate paid. A zero rate for emission free vehicles can't be applied indefinitely. When the majority of vehicles on the road become ultra low or zero emission the Department will have to re-assess and re-balance the amount paid by different vehicles types. We are a long way off that majority and right now less polluting vehicles must be encouraged in some small way.

EVIOM would advise all pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners on the island to double check the vehicle category their car or motorcycle is registered as, so that the exemption is properly applied. It has become clear that BEVs have been categories and taxed a variety of different rates from year to year. So check your tax disc and log book to make sure they are correct.

Please leave your comments below to tell us and others what you think about these changes.

Source: Isle of Man Government press release and https://www.gov.im/news/2017/apr/13/department-proposes-changes-to-vehicle-duty/

There are some parts of the Isle of Man Government who intend leasing the right to extract new fossil fuels from the sea bed in Manx waters. EVIOM believe that to do our part in fighting global warming, fossil fuels should be kept in the ground and resources be directed toward renewable energy.

We'd ask you to take a look at the petition below and sign if you agree:


We believe that exploration and extraction of fossil fuels (possibly using fracking techniques) is not compatible with the islands environmental commitments and it's UNESCO world biosphere status.

FOE Media Officer Falk Horning explains more
biosphere.im
Change.org petition

EVIOM is pleased to report that the anomaly surrounding vehicle duty for zero emission vehicles has been raised in the House of Keys this week (Tuesday 14th February).

David Ashford (Douglas North) asked the Minister for Infrastructure, Ray Harmer, "what consideration had been given by his Department to varying vehicle duty for alternative fuel cars?" Mr Harmer advised he intends to take a revised Vehicle Duty Order to Tynwald this March. This interim order will address a number of different issues but he did confirm that he proposes to include a zero rating for electric vehicles. Over the next 12 months the Department will carry out a review of road pricing and attempt to address the balance of maintaining revenue with the Government commitment to reducing carbon emissions and incentivise "desirable behaviour". The review will involve looking at strategies employed by other jurisdictions and will include some kind of consultation.

Recognising that Electric cars, or EVs, are the predominant type of zero emission vehicle Mr Ashford pushed for confirmation that all types of alternatively fuelled vehicles will be included in the review and close attention paid to changes announced by the UK Chancellor in their 2015 budget for April this year. From April, in the UK, zero emission vehicles will have a standard rate of £0 but if the list price is over £40,000 they will pay the additional rate of £310 a year for 5 years. The Minister confirmed that he will "take a very close look at what is happening in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom."

It is not just about carbon emissions; it is also about affordability and the commercial sector.

Ray Harmer MHK - on the subject of vehicle duty based on CO2 emissions

MHK for Ramsey Dr Alex Allinson also highlighted the current anomaly of zero emission EVs paying more duty than low emission or hybrid vehicles. Dr Allinson went on to ask if there would be any other incentives to try and encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in the Isle of Man? Mr Harmer confirmed his Department would be looking at this but warned that in order to introduce a similar scheme to the Plug-in Car Grant in the UK it could cost the Manx tax payer in the region of £300,000.

Those other schemes such as grants could be looked at, but we have also got to take into consideration budget factors.

Ray Harmer MHK - on plug-in vehicle grants

The lack of public charging infrastructure and how this could hamper attempts to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles was also brought up during the discussion by Mr Ashford. Mr Harmer didn't reply with any specific plans in this area but did say that he would like to work with other Departments and the MUA on the provision of public charging as well as encouraging overnight charging when demand is low and off-peak tariffs are available.

I do think it is something to actually work together as a Government looking at both the economic benefit and also the potential new innovations in the future.

Ray Harmer MHK - on the question of public charging infrastructure

Audio from 3 FM article - http://www.three.fm/news/isle-of-man-news/car-tax-exemption-for-electric-vehicle-drivers/

EVIOM are pleased this is finally being looked at as we have been highlighting vehicle duty anomalies since 2013. We look forward to seeing what changes will be made in the short term and hope for much greater encouragement of EVs on the island in the long term. If you haven't seen it already I encourage you to take a look at this post on EVIOM entitled EV Disincentives – A Letter to Your MHK a post that outlines what we see as the main disincentives to owning an EV on the Isle of Man and what we'd like the Isle of Man Government to consider in order to encourage the uptake of EVs. In it we ask you to forward this letter, along with a covering letter/email, to your own MHK.

Sources:
14 Feb 2014 House of Keys Rolling Hansard RHC 
DVLA - Vehicle tax (VED) is changing…

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EVIOM has written the letter below outlining what we see as the main disincentives to owning an EV on the Isle of Man and what we'd like the Isle of Man Government to consider in order to encourage the uptake of EVs. This would go some way towards helping meet the island's climate change targets as well as improving our air quality. We'd like as many people as possible to forward this letter, along with a covering letter/email, to their own MHK.


The Isle of Man – Zero Emission Transport

Back in 1996 the island was reported to have the highest car ownership levels in the western world[1] . In the UK alone the increase in the number of diesel cars registered since the year 2000 has gone up over a staggering 3000%[2].

Yet reducing emissions from vehicles by the introduction of zero emission technology is only seen as a “long-term” aim in the government's Climate Challenge Mitigation Strategy[3].

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) technology is now highly advanced and vehicle manufacturers are gearing up to switch to electrified drive trains in the next couple of years.

The Isle of Man is an ideal place for this type of vehicle but we are concerned that, given the track record of previous administrations and despite having a 5-year plan, very little progress will be achieved over this period.

Some of the detail given below may seem extremely trivial but the debate on climate change strategy has been going on in government since the mid-90s and still we have nothing to show for it.

When you read on, remember it is not about money or government revenues but about getting ready and being prepared for a new generation of cleaner, emission free transport systems. But, more importantly, providing a healthier environment to live in. The government has not monitored the air quality for the last 7 years[4] and this should have been done as part of a duty of care and the health of its citizens[5].

We have waited 20 years for the Isle of Man Government to act, let us hope that further inaction over the last 3 years will not be repeated and some hard decisions made very soon.

Purchase Incentives

There is no Isle of Man government grant towards the purchase of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) as introduced into the UK in 2011. Twenty-two European countries currently provide financial incentives for consumers to purchase plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)[6].

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020) there is to be a “range of initiatives to encourage the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles”.

Will this range of initiatives include purchase incentives?

Another incentive required is to ensure that all car sales outlets on the island give a commitment to the government that they will allow the purchase and maintenance of BEVs. There is only one outlet currently that sells and maintains BEVs.

Home Charge Points

In other countries the take up of BEVs has been encouraged with an offer of a grant towards the installation of a home charge point. This currently isn’t the case in the Isle of Man.

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020) there is only a commitment ‘To investigate the provision of incentives to encourage the installation of charge points in domestic properties” 

Will it really take 4 years for this investigation? We need this type of incentive now to encourage the take-up of BEVs.

Charge Points

When all electric motorcycles were introduced at the TT motorcycle races in 2010 (then known as TTXGP) the government asked the electricity authority (the MUA, previously the MEA) to provide ‘charging points’ for ‘electric vehicles’. They provided three 16-amp ‘Caravan’ type hook ups in Chester Street car park, Douglas and car parks in Castletown and Peel. These were not BEV charge points and were simply an outdoor electricity supply. A modern BEV would have to park for possibly 3 hours at these points to gain a significant charge, that is if they can get to park at one, as they are frequently occupied by fossil fuel burning cars (ICE or Internal Combustion Engine). Added to this you had to register and be given a key to unlock the covers over the socket outlet.

The MUA currently operate 3 BEVs (Peugeot iONs) and DEFA acquired a BEV (Nissan Leaf) and it soon followed that modern charge points (CPs) were provided at DEFA and MUA headquarters and also later in Castletown and Ramsey. These CPs are slow chargers with a maximum 32 amp output, the same as a ‘home’ charger. In 2016 Port Erin Commissioners also provided their own slow CP on their premises.

The initial signage at some of these points designated them as ‘parking’ bays when in fact they were ‘Charging’ bays. This caused lots of confusion, particularly for users of the Chester Street bays. When charging an EV at any of these points the electricity was free and there were no parking fees. Some EV owners took inappropriate advantage of the situation and the reaction of the car park operators (Douglas Borough Council) was to reintroduce the parking fee. So the only incentive here was the free electricity and at the current supply rate, amounted to a few pence over a maximum allowed 3-hour charge period. Why the operators could not just impose a parking time limit, as happens in Port Erin, is not fully understood. In Ramsey, one charge point has a time limit and the other does not.

The charge points in Castletown and Ramsey have proved problematic, both in design and reliability. The two in Ramsey have been physically damaged and the Castletown one was off-line 8 months waiting for parts, which could have been bought from a DIY store!

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020), in the section entitled “what we will do during the current administration” (up to November 2016) it is stated that “we will commence a programme to increase the number and distribution of ‘fast’ charge points”.

How far has this programme developed and will there be any consultation with BEV owners where these CPs will be situated, so as to avoid the issues we currently have using the existing CPs?

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020), in the section entitled “what we will do during the following administration” (after November 2016) it is stated that we will “develop and extend the existing network of CPs targeting key strategic locations around the island.”

Again, will the previous problems with introducing new CPs in a piecemeal fashion be addressed? Can we have an assurance that a standard set of guidelines are created with regards to type of charger (slow, fast, rapid), signage, time limited charging and cost of using the service?

Vehicle Licences

Under the old system, before CO2 emission related vehicle duty was introduced, an all-electric vehicle was categorised in ‘Class L- Electric vehicles’ and currently this rate stands at £14.00 per annum.

Back in 2013/2014 BEVs (e.g. the Nissan Leaf) were categorised as Category ‘B’ a ‘Standard Motor vehicle’ and duty was charged in accordance with the information on the registration document. However, the cubic capacity of a BEV is ZERO and the system will only allow the input of a positive number (e.g. 1cc) and this is how they were charged until it was brought to the attention of the Post Office that the cylinder capacity was non-existent. Refunds were applied to all registered BEVs that had been incorrectly categorised; including the BEV operated by the Post Office themselves!

Following the introduction of the CO2 emission related vehicle duty, whereby duty payable depended on the amount of CO2 (g/km) emitted by the vehicle, the licencing department omitted to include all Category ‘L’ Standard motor vehicles in the banding for low emission vehicles. This has been the case for almost 3 years and the lowest category – Band ‘A’ still refers to vehicles with ‘up to 50’ g/km CO2 emissions. This implies 0-50g/km but the department has stated, “in order to have a license based on emissions the vehicle has to have some emissions”.  They are still issuing renewal forms for fully electric vehicles and printing “1cc” on the forms.

There is NO acknowledgement the ZERO emission vehicles exist and this has led to BEV owners paying almost 3 times the licence fee paid by a polluting vehicle.

As an example the owner of a ZERO emission car such as a Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe pays almost 3 times the licence fee as the owner of a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2.0 GX3h Auto or a VW Golf 1.4 TSI GTE DSG and we all are aware of how accurate the emission data is for these vehicles as both manufacturers have been taken to court over this very issue!

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020), in the section entitled “what we will do during the current administration” (up to November 2016) it is stated that we will “commence work to introduce a vehicle licensing regime based on an initial point of sale levy (from 1st. April 2019) commensurate with vehicle emissions and the existing Manx scheme thereafter.” And “to commit to lowest practicable licence fee for Electric vehicles until 2020.”

Does this mean we will have to wait 3 more years to fix the ludicrous situation where zero emission vehicles pay more licence fee than polluting vehicles?

Owners of BEVs have paid the wrong vehicle tax for 3 years now and it looks like they will only be guaranteed to pay the lowest rate for 1 year. How is this an incentive for anyone to own a BEV?

The DOI’s inability to fix this disparity,  an “oversight” in their words, despite assurances that it will be corrected each year does not inspire confidence that the new “regime” will be fit for purpose. What assurances can be given that this will be a fair system and also encourage BEV up-take?

Reduced cost electricity

As more and more people registered with the electricity authority (the MUA) they offered to change the electric meters for domestic customers to one that offered a dual operation. i.e. the standard tariff from 07:00 a.m. until midnight and then an ‘off-peak’ rate midnight to 07:00 a.m.

This was the ONLY major incentive for BEV owners on the Isle of Man BUT…….

when we say ‘off-peak’ there now appear to be two rates of ‘off peak’ electricity.

The off-peak rate has now been increased for anyone wishing to charge their car whilst other domestic off-peak users continue on a lower rate.

Clearly there is no sense in this either as ‘off-peak’ is well defined and rates should be the same for all. (In fact the lower ‘off-peak’ rate actually operates within part of the peak load times - 14:00-16:00, and this makes even less sense.) I.e. on the lower rate ‘off-peak’ rate you pay less for some ‘peak’ time electricity.

In the 5-year plan (2016-2020) part of the ”range of activities to encourage adoption of BEVs and BHEVs …... could include an attractive electricity tariff structure”

It also recognises that “supplying BHEVs and EVs with electricity may be a useful application for spare grid capacity”.

As an incentive to EV ownership, will those who choose to charge their EVs and BHEVs at home, on a domestic tariff, be given a better ‘off-peak’ rate that those on other domestic ‘off-peak’ rates?

Conclusion

This document highlights the current lack of incentives for anyone on the Isle of Man to own an EV. In fact, any small concessions that have been given in the past have been eroded and no longer serve as even a small incentive to own an EV.

The concern is that the government has been slow to recognise the existence of EVs and their important place in the drive to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

A further concern is that the government’s strategy towards significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will not be achieved until hard decisions are made and more immediate action taken, effecting, amongst other things, the take-up of zero emission transport. The plan for the first 5 years, in respect to EVs, needs to achieve more in the short term to encourage residents to consider a change in the type of vehicle they purchase or drive.


A download of this document and a suggested covering letter is linked to below as well as the document covering the Isle of Man Government's Climate Challenge Mitigation Strategy.


[1] Isle of Man Today Article - So, how did we get here 10/11/16 - http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/columns/so-how-did-we-get-here-1-8225006

[2] SMMT - MVRIS New Vehicle Registrations UK - https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/mvris-new-vehicle-registrations-uk/

[3] A climate challenge mitigation strategy for the Isle of Man 2016 – 2050 section 2.8 https://www.gov.im/media/1351764/mitigation-addressing-our-climate-challenges.pdf

[4] gov.im - Air Quality - https://www.gov.im/about-the-government/departments/environment-food-and-agriculture/environment-safety-and-health-directorate/environmental-protection-unit/air-quality/

[5] Public Health Act 1990 section 88 - http://www.legislation.gov.im/cms/images/LEGISLATION/PRINCIPAL/1990/1990-0010/PublicHealthAct1990_2.pdf

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_incentives_for_plug-in_electric_vehicles#Europe

 

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