Is a tax treble whammy about to hit motorists?
Michael Nugent of BMW Ireland says, “I think first and foremost we need clarity. We need a clear direction from the Government. It’s unfortunate that we have to wait until the budget announcement, because, naturally, people are in consideration mode now, and I think it would be good – for us, it’s good for the customer, it’s good for the consumer and it’s good for the tax take – if the Government clarified earlier what they intend to do.
“The one difference this time was that the industry was consulted. We welcome that, and that should be continued going forward, but I can’t see why, when there’s such a long lead time for a purchase of this type, the Government can’t announce their intentions earlier. As of now, we are experiencing a reasonable level of interest for next year, and we’re quite hopeful that next year will be an improvement on this year.”
Gerard O’Farrell, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Ireland, says the SUV side of his business seems to be in a vulnerable position, having made great strides over the past months to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions of its range – moves that could be upended by changes to the tax regime.
He seems sanguine, though. “I think that the changes that the brand has made over the past two to three years, in terms of new models, getting more efficient engines, has put us in a very good position. Whatever changes happen in taxation, Land Rover won’t be disadvantaged but, on the contrary, will actually have a better price proposition for customers. For instance, the new Range Rover, we’ve taken half a tonne of weight out of the car, that’s brought us down a category and has effectively halved the road tax on that car.”
Also on a drive to reduce its average CO2 emissions, and therefore also caught between a potential tax rock and VRT hard place, is Mazda. Richard Molloy of Mazda Ireland says next year will be no picnic. “SkyActiv technology is putting Mazda in a really strong position. The whole ethos behind it is to engineer the car to deliver the best possible CO2 and fuel efficiency. So, even with the proposed VRT changes, we are going to be in a class-leading position in all our segments.
“It’s definitely going to be difficult for the industry. I suppose the one thing for the customer is that all car manufacturers, all brands are looking for business, so there’s value out there for consumers, but it’ll be a difficult year next year.
“I think the 131-132 plate is a good thing. It’s definitely the way forward. It’s been difficult for the industry being so highly geared towards sales in January. I think we’ll see a bigger kickback from that in 2014. I think next year will hold roughly around the same as this year.”