DUBAI // Classic car enthusiasts say they have been left worried and confused by changes to vehicle licensing laws. From January vehicles more than 20 years old will no longer be able to be registered in the UAE. From 2010, cars more than 15 years old will also be prohibited from registration. The Ministry of Interior says the changes will lead to about 170,000 cars being forced off the road "protect the environment and reduce the number of old cars on the roads".
In a move to appease collectors of distinctive marques, an exception is to be made for all "classic" cars, legally defined as those over 25 years old. However, this is of little comfort to owners of cars built after 1984. Some classic car owners in Dubai have expressed frustration that this will be a blanket regulation rather than applied on a car-by-car basis. An MoI spokesman said: "The owners of light vehicles which are 15 years or above can sell them for scrap or ship them to the countries of their manufacture."
Jeff Price, a Dubai-based radio presenter, has been canvassing opinions about the new laws. "Listeners have been quite concerned," he said. "Most are happy that the non-roadworthy vehicles will be removed but the consensus is that second-hand car dealerships will suffer and not everyone can afford a nice new car every couple of years." Paddy Smith, editor of Stuff, the men's lifestyle magazine, fears the regulations will remove some well-designed older cars from the roads.
"As advocates of classic design, we have serious reservations with using age as a means of categorisation," he said. "We will announce the Volkswagen Beetle as one of the 10 most influential product designs in modern history in our next issue and it's nice to see early models will be protected. But what about more recent classics? To potentially ban the registration of a Jaguar XJ-S cabriolet or a De Lorean DMC-12, but allow someone to drive a Hyundai Getz is an affront to good design."
An unintended consequence of the regulations is that there will no longer be an incentive for owners of ageing cars to keep them in good condition because cars will become effectively worthless as they approach the 15-year cut-off. Underlying the restrictions on older cars is a mandatory nitrogen emissions test that will apply to cars of all ages. This year the limit has been set at 4.5 per cent of the car's total emission.
This will be reduced to 3.5 per cent by January 2009, and 2.5 per cent by 2010. These tests will naturally filter out those older vehicles, which leaves many owners questioning the need for specific restrictions on older cars if reducing pollution is the key objective. * with additional reporting by Georgia Lewis
Classic cars are defined as those over 25 years old. These will be exempt from registration restrictions on older vehicles that apply from January. Nitrogen emissions tests will be mandatory for all vehicles, including classic cars. This year the limit has been set at 4.5 per cent of the total emissions of the car. This will be reduced to 3.5 per cent in 2009 and 2.5 per cent in 2010. From January, all light vehicles more than 20 years old, except for classic cars, will be banned from UAE roads. A ban will also be imposed on the transfer of light vehicles more than 10 years old. From January 2010, all light vehicles more than 15 years old, except classic cars, will be banned from UAE roads.