Why is a green car so pricey?


HELPDESK:All your motoring queries answered

From M Ryan:

I have a query on the pricing structure for the Skoda Yeti: how is that the diesel Greenline version is more expensive than the regular 2-litre diesel version despite the fact that is has a lower VRT rate?

The new Greenline is Band A so the VRT rate is 14 per cent and the regular diesel is Band C with a VRT rate of 20 per cent.

Hence, unless there is a difference in specification you would expect the lower VRT rated car to be cheaper to purchase. This anomaly in pricing is not just confined to Skoda but similar fuzzy pricing can be seen across many car manufacturers/importers into Ireland.

Some car firms are certainly charging more for their greener technology versions, blaming the various extra engineering features added to such cars for the higher costs.

It’s something that needs to be taken into account against any potential fuel and tax savings during ownership.

However, in fairness to Skoda the situation is not clear-cut. The regular 2-litre diesel version you refer to is no longer offered by the firm on the Irish market.

Skoda is withdrawing the equivalent TDI version of the Yeti in all but its four-wheel-drive version, which is significantly more expensive than the Greenline model.

In response to your query Skoda claims the price difference “reflects the new technology that is included in the GreenLine vehicles,” and points to the additional stop-start and brake energy recuperation technology, along with changes to the transmission and body panels.

If you take account of the difference in VRT payments that is swallowed up by these new technologies they do seem expensive.

As you suggest, if the VRT is significantly less then the price should be less, even with the various engineering adjustments to make the car more eco- friendly. However, Skoda is adamant there is no profiteering going on here and say they’d be happy to sell the car for less if they could afford to.

From AF:

During this cold snap I went out to discover that my car battery was flat. The mechanic who helped jump-start it told me that part of the problem was that batteries lose power in cold weather. As someone who is seriously considering an electric car in the near future, is that information correct and should I worry?

Yes it’s true, but I wouldn’t worry unduly. Battery packs do dissipate energy more quickly in extreme temperatures and car firms find that with electric cars the range can be reduced by up to 50 per cent. Car firms are experimenting with heating technology and at temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius, but a solution to the loss of power in colder climes seems some way off. It won’t mean you will be stranded, just that your expected range may drop when temperatures fall into minus figures.

Send your queries to Motors Helpdesk, The Irish Times, Tara St, Dublin 2 or email motorshelp@irishtimes.com