Although the headline of this article sounds a bit crazy, the truth is that it’s actually being considered by the European Union. The proposal (yes, it’s still in the “proposal” stage) is to restrict repairs on older vehicles, potentially leaving them with a one-way ticket to the car crusher.

The apparent rationale behind it is to nudge owners of older cars in the direction of the scrapyard if, at some point, their car needs ‘significant’ repairs. The upshot is, if it ever becomes law, replacing major parts like the engine, gearbox or steering could actually be forbidden along with if it’s been welded, has caught fire, suffered water damage or has an irreversible “technical defect”.

In short, vehicles that might fit into this new category are ones that are over 15 years old and need extensive repair work that exceeds the value of the car. If applicable, they would be earn the somewhat euphemistic title of being a “residual vehicle”. And, once this label has been slapped on them, it’s difficult to see any other viable options aside from the scrap heap.

The “Fit for 55” legislation

According to the European Commission website, the EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 55% by the year 2030 and the Fit for 55 legislative packages are designed to make the EU’s economy fit for purpose when it comes to meeting this target. The rhetoric is to reach climate targets in a “fair, cost-effective and competitive way”.

2035 and beyond

As most of you will already know, the UK Government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2035 (previously 2030) to help us all towards this ambitious goal, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether additional ‘green’ laws may also be on the cards for those of us in the United Kingdom.

Potential problems

As you can imagine, there are several problematic aspects of the proposed legislation. First and foremost, by what criteria would a “residual vehicle” be defined? Who would decide what the cost of a major repair would be, how would the vehicle’s value be established, what would happen to classic cars? … and so on.

I think it’s fair to say that if this proposal was ratified and became law, it wouldn’t be without its detractors. As a case in point, when covering this story, Euro Weekly News claims that Spanish drivers own vehicles that are on average more than 14 years old, with nearly half of them being more than 15 years old. You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that this could mean that half of Spain’s drivers would have to either stop driving altogether or be forced to buy a newer car. The article goes on to say that it’s a similar story in Germany, with the average vehicle age being around 10 years and again, in France, which has an even older average age.

This type of story is reiterated elsewhere, with one forum user saying in a thread on the topic:

“Good luck with making that stick. My car in Portugal is 19 years old and many cars on the road are 30 years old. The people who keep them on the road are often back yard mechanics. As Cuba showed, one can keep a car on the road almost forever.”

Another user also made this pertinent point:

“How is it saving the planet? Let me think, new piston rings and head gasket for engine rebuild or ravage the earths resources to build another car to replace the one I’m not allowed to fix”

In summary

Although this story is worrying if you drive an older car, you can feel reassured that this legislation is a long way from being law and it’s also worth pointing out that the UK is no longer part of the EU; but this doesn’t mean the UK Gov. wouldn’t follow suit at some point.

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