An island of second-hand cars

Every citizen has the right to purchase a car – new or used – from wherever s/he likes, whether locally or from abroad. In the past, there were cases when people bought cars from abroad because no such models were available in Malta. But this was the exception not the rule.

It appears that many are constrained to buy a used car because the equivalent new model available here is perceived to be too expensive. More used cars are being registered than new ones.

Something is wrong and a discussion is developing on the social media through the Malta Automobile Club page on Facebook ( There is nothing wrong with competition and many dealing in used cars is no problem. But is this the quality of life that European Union membership was supposed to bring about?

Why do a large number of Maltese have to become the owners of leftovers of other citizens when owning a car? Why is it that a large number of Maltese have renounced their ‘right’ to purchase a new car as used to be the case in the past?

According to information given in Parliament, between January and February 2009, a total of 750 second-hand cars were registered. A total of 6,617 used imported cars were registered in the first eight months of 2010 when €25,590,604.41 were collected in registration fees, and €31,850,342.55 from vehicle licence or annual circulation fees.

In the first 10 months of that year, 8,283 second-hand vehicles were registered in contrast to 4,575 new vehicles and the Government collected €17,694,286 in registration fees and other taxes on second hand cars and €13,546,942 in registration fees and other taxes on new cars.

Information in Parliament in November 2010 on the year of manufacture of the 8,283 second-hand cars registered makes very interesting reading.

The majority were manufactured between 1999 and 2009, 2,407 in 2006 and 1,833 in 2007. The oldest two cars were built in 1928, presumably imported by vintage car collectors.

What is the current level of car taxation in Malta? What percentage of the price of a new car goes into taxes? What percentage of the price of a new car represents the profit made?

Something is not working.

The registration tax on Euro standard 4 cars was scheduled to increase by an average of 10 per cent, according to the 2013 Budget. This is an unwarranted and unjustified extra burden on car owners when registration tax is already exceedingly high in Malta.

The reduction of registration tax on Euro standard 5 cars up to a maximum of 30 per cent makes sense. Other reductions are also welcome.

However, according to European Commission proposals, registration tax was supposed to be abolished completely and, if retained, it should not exceed 10 per cent of the car’s pre-tax price.

It is doubtful whether the authorities realise or really care that Maltese citizens have ended up in this situation: a growing constituency of used car owners.

Burdening the country with used and unsuitable public buses by the Ministry of Transport does not reflect a leap in the quality of life even if the vehicles are a little more comfortable than their predecessors. The ministry is supposed to be there to be of service to citizens, including both car owners and commuters who use the public transport.

The Malta Automobile Club is expected to carry out a survey of the price of new cars in Malta and that of similar cars in some localities in Europe. It also plans to have meetings with representatives of importers of new cars and with second-hand car dealers to find a solution that will be fair to everybody, including car owners.

The Malta Automobile Club will have other items on its agenda, including vehicle registration taxes and annual circulation fees, the cost of petrol and diesel in Malta as well as driver education for young people, including students.


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