Slovakia's used car policy turning the country into Europe's scrapyard

The average age of cars in Slovakia keeps increasing.

Used cars made up a 44.6 percent of all the passenger cars registered in Slovakia in 2021. (Source: Sme)

Rejuvenating the national car fleet is one opportunity countries have to curb their greenhouse gases emissions. But unlike other European countries, Slovakia has so far failed to put more environmentally-friendly motor vehicles at an advantage.

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Instead, the registration fee scheme in place at the moment only takes the engine size into consideration. On top of that, the older the car, the lower the registration fee. While the government has promised to change the registration fee scheme and emphasise environmental factors, its plan has not materialised.

“As a result, we are importing scrap and Slovakia is turning into Europe's scrapyard,” said Alexander Matušek, chair of the Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP), in mid-January as he presented an overview of the Slovak automotive industry in 2021.

ZAP statistics indicate that in 2021, the import of used passenger cars into Slovakia kept increasing, unlike the purchases of new vehicles. While the registration of new vehicles decreased by 0.79 percent or 605 cars year-on-year to 75,700, the import of used cars was up 3,846 cars (6.3 percent) year-on-year, to 61,032.

Even though Slovakia is a global car-manufacturing powerhouse, boasting the highest automobile production per capita in the world year after year, most of these cars are exported to more wealthy markets.

Chip crisis partly to blame

Experts partly cite the chip crisis that halted car production lines as the reason behind the increase in imported used cars.

“Buyers do not want to wait for the supply of a [new] car after the crisis extended the waiting time for some models by as long as one year,” Juraj Smatana, state secretary of the Environment Ministry, told The Slovak Spectator. To prevent waiting, people opt for a readily available used car.

Another factor is Slovakia's registration fee scheme.

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