Save money on your carBy Simon Donohue
April 18, 2008
Concerned about rising fuel prices? There are other ways to cut the price of motoring. SIMON DONOHUE reveals how to avoid paying road tax.
There’s only one at the moment, but dozens are sure to follow. Volkswagen has the creditable distinction of selling the only new car boasting a traditional internal combustion engine which produces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions below the magic 100g/km mark.
The Polo BlueMotion is powered by a 1.4 TDI engine boasting a diesel particulate filter and produces CO2 emissions of only 99g/km. And that means it’s exempt from road tax licence.
You still need to display a tax disc – available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – but it won’t cost you a penny.
A lot is being said about hybrid and hydrogen cars, but in the short term at least, I think we’re going to see a lot more cars which still burn fossil fuels, but do it more efficiently, and cleanly than ever before.
The Polo BlueMotion 1 is priced at £11,995 and will cover 74.2 miles on a single gallon of fuel.
Vehicles constructed before January 1, 1973 are exempt from vehicle excise duty but must still display a “free” tax disc supplied by the DVLA.
Classic Cars magazine’s Mike Goodbun suggests that the MGB convertible is a good retro-ride for beginners. You’ll pay between £6,000 and £10,000 for a decent example, with the equivalent, hard-top MGB GT available for around £2,000 less.
The cars return in the region of 25mpg and there is loads of support from suppliers of new parts, which include complete body shells.
Goodbun says it’s entirely possible to get hold of an old MGB in poor condition and use it as a “donor” car to build an as-new vehicle using new parts.
“It’s a more distinctive choice than the usual MX-5,” he adds. “You’re not going to see as many on the road and to some people they’re a style statement.”
And the pitfalls? “Rust,” he adds. “If you find a bit of rust, it’s likely that it goes through lots of layers.”
Vehicles run using electricity are exempt from car tax, but not that easy to find.
The rules state that the electricity must come from an external source or an electric storage battery, which is not connected to any source of power when the vehicle is moving. And given the length of the average flex, that’s probably a good thing.
It’s important to remember that while the electric car has been around in some form for generations – milk floats, dis-abled vehicles, etc – the tech-nology is still in its infancy.
The G-Wiz automatic electric vehicle will travel 48 miles per charge and manages a top speed of 50mph. It is available from £8,995.
However, if you fancy something more exotic, The Lightning Car Company is this year expected to deliver the first of its electric Lightning GT, a 700bhp monster capable of more than 130mph.
It’s available to order now, with a £50,000 deposit.
Go steam ....
The late and great Fred Dibnah might have appeared eccentric, but he clearly knew how to save money.
Steam-powered vehicles like those favoured by the Lancastrian steeplejack are exempt from vehicle road tax. But whether they’re a practical way of commuting between A and B remains to be seen.
Michael Brain sells all types of steam-powered vehicles through Kent-based Preston Services and says a coal-powered car, if it existed, would beat both fuel and road duty. However, he says the “entry level” solution for today’s steam buff would be to buy a vintage steam roller for in the region of £45,000.
However, the Rolls Royce equivalent, the Showman’s Road Locomotive, will cost you closer to £500,000.
Expect to pay in the region of £12 for 50 kilos of coal – enough to take you between six and 20 miles – and not a penny in tax.