Lunedì, 20 Maggio 2024
The reform

Can Europe Force us to Scrap our Old Cars if they're too Worn Out?

The League’s MEP accuses the EU of wanting to "take away from owners the right to decide when it's time to scrap their car." What's the truth?

"The ban on the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars from 2035 is just a smokescreen. The EU wants to prevent us from using internal combustion engine cars much earlier imposing the scrappage of obsolete vehicles," meaning those whose "repair cost exceeds the market value, either because the vehicle has skipped the national technical inspection for two years, or again because the engine or gearbox need to be replaced, or because the brakes and steering components are too worn out." Isabella Tovaglieri, a League’s MEP, has recently denounced this. Her words quickly spread on social media, sparking controversy, and reigniting the classic accusation of a "bad" Europe targeting citizens in the name of environmentalism ("the umpteenth eco-madness," as described by the League’s MEP). But what's the truth?

The Regulation

The alarm raised by Tovaglieri is not unheard of. In the past few months, different versions about the alleged risk of the EU wanting to seize old cars had already circulated on various social media accounts across the continent, many of which are already known for spreading fake news. One of the first accounts to do so was Peter Sweden’s, whose post on X (former Twitter) counted over 590,000 views. Today as back then, the culprit is a proposal from the European Commission dating back to last July, the "Regulation for the management of end-of-life vehicles."

What does this proposal say? It must be emphasized that in this area there are already laws in place, which have been in force for twenty years, such as the “Directive on the end-of-life vehicles” on the reuse, recyclability, and recoverability of cars and car parts. Brussels wants to update these rules: "Every year, over six million vehicles in Europe reach the end of their life. Inadequate management of end-of-life vehicles results in value loss and pollution," a note explains.

Obligations for Manufacturers

The proposal mainly targets manufacturers, not car owners: the Commission wants to introduce obligations in the construction phase (such as the fact that cars must contain a minimum of 25% of recycled plastic out of the total of plastics used) to produce "greener" and recyclable vehicles. Not by chance, the first concerns were raised precisely by Acea, the powerful lobby of European car manufacturers, which fears impacts on their budgets because of an increased use of recycled materials.

Forced Scrapping?

For car owners, the new measures concern not the ownership itself but what happens when they want to sell their vehicle. In the regulation, "there is nothing that can prevent owners of any type of car, in whatever condition it is, from trying to repair it or having it repaired," clarifies Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson for the EU Commission for transport. "The rules in this regulation only apply when owners want to sell their cars – he adds -; in this case these rules allow authorities to establish whether it is actually a (sellable, editor's note) car or a vehicle that has reached the end of its life," he explains.

Tovaglieri's X-2
In other words, we can keep our old car for as long as we want. Whenever we decide to sell it though, the new rules come into play. This, Jahnz explains further, aims not to burden citizens with new obligations but to "put an end to a specific type of fraud: there are scrap vehicles which are exported from the EU and sold as genuine used cars, even though they are not able to circulate in any way."

Criteria for Knowing if your Car is "Out-of-Use"

To be able to sell the car, therefore, a series of criteria must be respected. The general criterion is that the vehicle must be repairable: if it is not, it becomes an "end-of-life vehicle" and cannot be sold as a used car. Specifically, Brussels writes that a "vehicle is technically irreparable if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
•    it has been cut into pieces or stripped;
•    it has been welded up or closed by insulating foam;
•    it has been completely burned to the point where the engine compartment or the passenger compartment is destroyed;
•    it has been submerged in water above the dashboard;

At least one of the following components of the vehicle cannot be repaired or replaced:
•    ground coupling components (such as tires and wheels), suspension, steering, braking, and related components;
•    seat fixings and joints
•    airbags, pretensioners, seat belts, and their peripheral components
•    the vehicle's body and frame
•    structural and safety components have irreversible and non-replaceable technical defects, such as metal aging, multiple breaks in primers, or excessive perforating corrosion
•    the vehicle's repair requires the replacement of the engine, gearbox, shell, or chassis assembly, resulting in the loss of the vehicle's original identity.

Moreover, "the vehicle is economically irrepairable if its market value is lower than the cost of the necessary repairs needed to restore it in the Union to a technical condition that would be sufficient to obtain a roadworthiness certificate in the Member State where the vehicle was registered before repair."

Finally, the "vehicle can be considered technically irrepairable if:
•    it has been submerged in water to a level below the dashboard with damage to the engine or electrical system;
•    the doors are not attached to it;
•    it leaks fuel or fuel vapors with a risk of fire and explosion;
•    gas has leaked from its liquid gas system resulting in a risk of fire and explosion;
•    it leaks its operating fluids (fuel, brake fluid, antifreeze liquid, battery acid, coolant liquid) with a risk of water pollution; or
•    the brakes and steering components are excessively worn out.

If any of the above conditions exist, a technical evaluation of the vehicle is carried out to determine whether the vehicle’s technical status is sufficient to obtain a roadworthiness certificate in the Member State where the vehicle was registered before repair," Brussels concludes.

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Can Europe Force us to Scrap our Old Cars if they're too Worn Out?

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