EU’s controversial car laws vs repairing older vehicles

Will the EA ban repairs on older vehicles?

A classic car being rebuilt. Credit: Nejron Photo/

With the internal combustion engine to be consigned to history in the not-too-distant future, recent information has emerged regarding the European Union’s plan to restrict repairs on older vehicles.

The proposal, originating from the European Commission and yet to be ratified, aims to phase out older, more polluting vehicles in favour of environmentally friendly options.

This prospective regulation, awaiting approval from the European Parliament and the Council, introduces the notion of a ‘residual vehicle’.

Cars experiencing failures in major components such as engines, transmissions, brakes, or steering, and deemed old (potentially around 15 years), will fall under this category. Once labelled as residual, these vehicles would be barred from undergoing significant repairs and would likely be scrapped.

The fit for 55 initiative

The EU’s ambitious ‘Fit for 55’ program seeks to eliminate direct transport emissions by 2050, with interim goals including a 55 per cent reduction by 2030 from 1990 levels.

A significant step in this journey is the 2035 ban on new combustion engine cars, excluding vehicles operating on potential future synthetic fuels. However, the reality presents challenges, as the uptake of low or zero-emission vehicles in the EU lags behind expectations, varying significantly across member states.

Spain, for example, now has an average vehicle age exceeding 14 years, with over 47 per cent of vehicles older than 15 years.

Such trends are not confined to southern European countries or those with lower incomes; Germany’s average vehicle age hovers around 10 years, with France exceeding this mark.

This ageing fleet has prompted the European Commission to propose measures aimed at reducing car longevity.

Impact on vehicle lifecycle

The crux of the controversy lies in a draft regulation redefining waste classification and management for end-of-life vehicles, promoting a circular economy.

The European Commission’s office in Spain has clarified that the proposal does not intend to prevent necessary engine repairs or replacements in standard cars.

The regulation specifies conditions under which a vehicle is deemed technically irreparable or residual. These include extensive damage, such as being cut, welded, burnt, submerged, or exhibiting irreversible technical defects.

Controversially, a vehicle requiring major part replacements or whose repair costs exceed its market value could also be classified as residual.

This raises concerns about the potential impact on the workshop sector and the preservation of classic cars. The proposal, while not forcing owners to discard their vehicles, casts doubt on the future of vehicle repairs and sales, especially for cars potentially deemed historical.

In conclusion, the EU’s new car regulation proposal, part of its broader environmental strategy, is a multifaceted issue.

It seeks to promote a cleaner future but raises questions about its implications for vehicle owners, the automotive industry, and the preservation of automotive heritage.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Flabsquab

      13 January 2024 • 11:13

      If this ruling comes about, it is yet another secision made by a lagely unelected core which conflicts with the majority view. Half of all cars in Spain and Italy are over 15 years old but who cares if it doesnt affect them.

    • Robert Marshall

      13 January 2024 • 18:54

      Never going to happen , to much pollution being caused by the oil as coal power stations needed to produce the electricity to charge EVs. It’s all a con .

    • Tony Caputo

      14 January 2024 • 00:34

      Dream on with your twisted reality denying the pollution caused by building EV’s. …are you in denial or is it ok for the pollution to be in another part of the planet

    • mac

      14 January 2024 • 08:33

      Absolute nonsense from the corrupt EU government. There is no need for this action, better still why not put it to a EU referendum. Too many laws are being actioned without discussion with the EU population, just because you are a MUP does not automatically say that you are intelligent and lets face it most MPs are as thick as two short planks, wake up people we are being railroaded into a undemocratic union.

    • Robert Faraday

      14 January 2024 • 15:21

      IMHO one of the reasons for the aged cars is the unreal high second hand prices that are not in the interest of the purchasers. Too many used car dealers milking the system. Prices of comparable cars in the UK are about half those in Spain.

    • Rui Quinta

      17 January 2024 • 11:40

      Which interests is this Comission defending? Not the people’s! This is a fatal shot to individuals rights and freedom. Today it is cars, tomorrow european citizens will be banned from farting in order to meet the greenhouse targets!

    • vm

      17 January 2024 • 12:46

      Don’t dare to do this!
      The base idea has nothing to do with environment!
      This is pure authoritarian people aggression!
      Without any environment gain!
      Environment will suffer more!
      Objective is to force purchase of new cars!
      Ignoring social well-being and forcing people will destroy the rest of confidence in democracy, institutions and undercover powers!

    • Victor Gutiérrez

      20 January 2024 • 18:46

      Most of the cars in Spain are over 14 years old. Maybe because we dont have a German economy, struggle and mend what we have.
      Maybe a EU politician should walk a mile in my shoes, maybe if the spanish government lowered our national insurance payments , we could afford newer cars .

    Comments are closed.