MAG calls for a weight-based Vehicle Excise Duty system

MAG has revealed its position on Vehicle Excise Duty. Proposing a universal system based purely on vehicle weight, MAG says it is promoting a system that meets all the goals of the Government whilst offering a long-term solution that addresses far more than just a single vehicle emission problem.

On 11th March 2020 HM Treasury published a call for evidence seeking views on moving towards a more dynamic system of Vehicle Excise Duty which recognises smaller differences in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Speaking after the publication of a formal position statement, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, explains the thinking behind MAG’s position:

“Motorcyclists have long felt that the current VED system is unfair.  The existing system – based on engine capacity for motorcycles – sees many riders paying far higher levels of VED than most car owners.  I own both a motorcycle and a car, yet pay around three times as much VED on my bike compared to my car, even though my motorcycle pollutes less than my car, causes less congestion than my car and causes less damage to the road infrastructure than my car.”

In proposing a move to a purely CO2 emissions-based approach for all vehicle classes, there would be redress on this current situation.  However, given that the Government wants to move to a purely electric vehicle fleet, they are clearly building in a limited lifespan for their revenue stream.  When all vehicles are producing zero tailpipe emissions there will no longer be a basis to charge any VED.  Not only will the revenue stream dry up, but many other issues will have failed to have been addressed.  It is widely accepted that car use needs to be contained and reduced.  A VED system based purely on CO2 emissions will have no impact on behaviour change once electric cars are the norm.

Converting all cars to electric will not reduce congestion and will increase particulate matter generated from tyre and road surface wear.

It is clear that reduced vehicle weight translates to reduced emissions of CO2, yet current electric cars are, on average, 30% heavier than their traditional, internal combustion-engine equivalents.  Regardless of motive power, more energy is required to move a heavier vehicle.  More energy necessarily means more emissions, whether that be at the tailpipe or the electricity generation plant.  However, maintaining the weight-based approach means that regardless of progress towards reduced CO2 emissions, the revenue stream remains intact.  Vehicle weight cannot be cheated, and applies to all classes of vehicle, no matter how many wheels, axles, tracks or technology.  The lighter vehicles are, the more sustainable they will be.  A weight-based system future-proofs revenue, as well as guiding common sense with regards to how we use the planet’s finite resources.

MAG looks forward to discussing this approach to Vehicle Excise Duty with Ministers, but also calls on all other groups to back this position. From pedestrians and cyclists concerned about harm from overweight vehicles, to councils struggling with tight budgets to maintain the roads, and from the Motorcycle Industry Association to the Road Haulage Association, we believe that all parties will be able to see the sense in this elegant solution to maintaining a Government revenue stream whilst encouraging more sustainable transport behaviours.

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or

MAG’s position statement on the matter can be found HERE