How much will my car tax cost?

Reader is concerned that the latest rises in car tax for diesels will make his car too expensive to run...

2013 Skoda Superb review

I am a pensioner. I live in the countryside and, like many, I depend on my car as there is no public transport any more.

I drive a 2013 Skoda Superb with the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine. The car has done 41,000 miles and has many years of motoring left. 

I read your recent article about rises in car tax (VED) and am concerned that my car will cost £320 more. How come my diesel (which I was encouraged to buy by previous administrations) is going up so much?

Has anyone in the Government considered the cost in terms of energy and pollution involved in manufacturing a new car and scrapping my unblemished car?

Surely there should be some conversations about making existing diesels greener rather than simply using the motorist as a cash cow as always.

Iain Helstrip  

What Car? says…

The latest changes in the cost of car tax are more punitive to diesel cars, but they only apply to new cars first registered after 1 April this year. So the VED for your car won't be hiked by £320. 

The annual rates for older cars also rose at the same time because they're now linked to inflation by being tied to the Retail Price Index. However, for most vehicles, the increase is only around £5.  

The cost of VED for cars first registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017 is based on their CO2 emissions. Your car has CO2 emissions of 154g/km, and the annual rate of VED has risen from £195 to £200. It's likely to rise by a similarly small amount each year. 

Changes to car vehicle excise duty in 2019 

VED on most new and used cars rose from 1 April this year, as part of a government plan to pay for the majority of future road repairs and upgrades through taxes levied against motorists. 

As in the past, VED costs vary depending on a car’s CO2 emissions and whether it’s a petrol, diesel or hybrid. Only electric vehicles – with no exhaust emissions – will continue to be exempt from VED.

Diesel cars that don’t meet the RDE2 emissions standard – which will become mandatory in January 2020 – will continue to be stung with higher VED rates than their petrol counterparts.

After the first year, all petrol and diesel cars first registered after 1 April 2017 attract a flat rate of £145, while hybrids are being charged £135 – an increase of £5 in both cases. Electric cars are once again exempt. 

The premium tax levied on cars that cost more than £40,000 (and which is payable from years two to six) will also rise from £310 to £320 per year. The premium tax is based on the car’s quoted list price before discounts, plus any options you’ve added. The list price should include on-the-road costs such as delivery and numberplates but excludes the first year’s road tax and initial registration fee.

How WLTP testing is affecting VED costs

VED costs have already risen for many new cars in the wake of the WLTP fuel economy tests that replaced the former NEDC system last September. Although these more realistic official tests won’t be used to calculate VED until April 2020, the CO2 emissions of all new cars tested since last September are being converted to correlated NEDC figures, which are, on average, 10-20% higher than before. Certain BMWs, for example, have changed by up to 14%, with 15% adjustments for some Volkswagen models. 

As a result, a petrol or diesel car that officially emitted 120g/km under the old regime might now put out 144g/km. Under the new rates, that means a £40 hike in annual VED cost for the petrol car and a £320 jump for the diesel.

Find out about the new WLTP fuel economy tests

First year car tax rates from 1 April 2019

CO2 emissions (g/km) Petrol Diesel Alternative fuel
0 £0 £0 £0
1-50 £10 £25 £0
51-75 £25 £110 £15
76-90 £110 £130 £100
91-100 £130 £150 £120
101-110 £150 £170 £140
111-130 £170 £210 £160
131-150 £210 £530 £200
151-170 £530 £855 £520
171-190 £855 £1280 £845
191-225 £1280 £1815 £845
226-255 £1815 £2135 £1805
More than 255 £2135 £2135 £2125

Subsequent annual VED rates from 1 April 2019

The annual VED rate for petrol and diesel cars is £145; it's £135 for hybrid cars and £0 for electric vehicles.  

Car tax rates for cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017 

If you bought your car before 1 April 2017 or buy a second-hand car that was registered before this date, the amount of car tax you'll pay will depend on the car's emissions. Below are the VED rates for cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017. 

VED band CO2 emissions (g/km) Annual rate
A Up to 100 £0
B 101-110 £20
C 111-120 £30
D 121-130 £125
E 131-140 £145
F 141-150 £160
G 151-165 £200
H 166-175 £235
I 176-185 £260
J 186-200 £300
K 201-225 £325
L 226-255


M More than 255 £570

Why you still have to apply to tax your tax-free car

Owners of cars that qualify for free VED are being caught out by not applying to renew their road tax, even though they don’t have to pay the fee.

Many low-emissions cars that were first registered before 1 April 2017 and emit up to 100g/km of CO2 qualify for free VED. However, owners of these cars will still get an annual renewal reminder and must apply for road tax, even though there is nothing to pay. Ignoring the renewal notice runs the risk of a fine of up to £1000.

Research last year revealed that more than 71,000 people failed to tax their zero-rated cars over the previous three years, with more than £1.1 million in fines being issued as a result.

The DVLA requires every car to be either taxed (even if it’s free) or declared off the road by filing a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) every year. It claims this ensures an up-to-date record of car ownership in the UK and whether those cars are being used on the road.

Cars first registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017 and producing 100g/km of CO2 or less qualify for free VED. As for cars registered after 1 April 2017, only zero-emissions electric vehicles are eligible for free VED; everything else is charged according to their CO2 emissions.

Many of the cars rated at 100g/km or lower are diesels, but only Euro 6-compliant models (in other words, those first registered after September 2016) are exempt from inner-city low-emissions zone charges.

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