One of the advantages of end-user motoring is that you don't give a hoot if some ignoramus dings your pride and joy in the car park. Another is El Cheapo Third Party insurance, and a third is that old cars are more user-friendly to spanner wielders. With less of a need for special tools there will be fewer visits to the workshop. Spares can easily be had from the scrappy, which shows willing in the areas of recycling and saving the planet. Of course, such a motoring lifestyle only works for someone who knows (or is willing to learn) about cars, doesn't mind getting greasy hands and can tolerate the occasional failure to get to work on time.
So what are the UAE authorities playing at?
- "Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Fujairah: A car more than 20 years old will soon be an unfamiliar sight on the roads, as authorities intend to get them off the streets as of next January 1.
The Ministry of Interior announced that the decision to ban cars more than 20 years old aims to ease traffic congestion and to curb pollution.
The process of phasing out old cars will be completed in stages.
Traffic departments nationwidce [sic] will stop registering or renewing licences for vehicles more than 20 years old as of December 1."
'To curb pollution' It is generally true that newer cars produce lower emissions than their older counterparts, so this is surely more an issue of keeping the engine in tune than regularly replacing the vehicle with a new one. A very effective way to reduce vehicle emissions would be to ban the Prado (291g/km CO2 0.68g/km CO) and force people to buy the Yaris (141g/km CO2 0.39g/km CO) [Source here], but that's unlikely to happen any time soon. Imagine the sudden disappearance of all 6, 8 and 12 cylinder engines, together with legislation requiring the purchase of the new Nissota Peon Hybrid, a vehicle that runs on organic tofu and rabbit droppings.
'Ease traffic congestion' This means reducing the number of (old and therefore cheap) vehicles on the road. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the real reason for the new rule. It is to exclude poor people from private motoring. The irrefutable logic is presumably that the said poor people can travel by company bus between Sonapur and their sweat-shops and therefore have no need to drive. If you need a car, you'd better be able to afford a decent one, or else you can go and live in a different country.
For practical purposes the 20 year rule will affect very few vehicles. Most cars die in their teens of corrosion, multiple blunt-force trauma or terminal thrashitis. There ought to be a reward for getting to 20, not a punishment. Instead of an arbritrary expiry date, all that is needed is a requirement to pass the annual test.
Surely, if you can keep your elderly Ford running, and keep the emissions low enough to get it through the registration process, there's no sensible reason to chuck it away and buy a new one. Of course, all the lights and brakes must function and there has to be no corrosion in critical areas. The same rules would get a seven year old mobile traffic offence off the road. Dodgily reconstructed crash victims ought to fail if the brakes don't work or the chassis are bent. I know people who have had their old Nissan Patrols fail because of weld repairs to the frame, so this principle is at least established.
It's the threat of being unable to transfer ownership of a 10 to 19 year old vehicle that worries me. How does someone get rid of a 15 year old Nissan? It's impossible to sell. Does he risk not registering it for a year or so until he leaves? What might happen is that the purchaser won't transfer title. The previous incumbent leaves, and it will be impossible for the authorities to recover any speeding, parking or red-light violations from the new non-owner. I forecast an explosion in the number of teenaged illegal, unregistered vehicles, closely followed by a rash of knee-jerk legislation.
And what of historic vehicles? Special rules must surely be introduced to allow the owners of classic cars to use them on the road. I would be disappointed although not surprised to learn that only selected wastafarians were allowed to own and run old classic cars.