Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Sell your old car

A new law in the making would ban cars which are at least 20 years old, reports Mohamed Abdel-Razek 

#Classic Packard # Abandoned VW Beatle
# #

A few weeks ago scattered rumours started to spread in the country that old vehicles would be banned from registering, something which would lower pollution levels and traffic congestion, as well as serving road safety. But that would also mean a disaster for many families in Egypt who rely on old cars from the 1980s and 1990s to help them run their everyday lives and who can’t afford to replace them with a modern-day car beyond their means.

According to a recent article by Cairo Scene, there will be law which will focus especially on trucks, lorries and buses. Parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee headed by Kamal Amer stated that for personal cars, they will be checked according to their current condition, and a report will be issued which will decide the kinds of restrictions the car will face in its future registration. Some cars might be only allowed to operate in certain areas in the country and other cars will be prohibited to operate on certain days of the week and certain hours of the day.

There are a lot of questions to be asked, including how qualified and honest the teams that will check and test the old cars are in order to grant them registration. Right now there are already machines and technicians across the country who are supposed to be testing and checking on the condition and emotions, if you like, of every vehicle before registration is approved. We still see vehicles of different types on the streets throwing black and white smoke yet their owners are still capable of getting them registered. From another angle, there are relatively new cars, five years let’s say, which don’t receive much care from its owners, thus ending up with a condition that if compared with a well maintained low mileage 21-year-old car, will lose the competition.

On the technology and development side of the story, an expensive Mercedes S600 class W140 model 1992 cost $130k when it was new. Why? Because it was the most advanced luxury vehicle ahead of its time. This S-class now is 26 years old, and you can find safety and emissions technology in it that you can’t find in most of the new budget Japanese and Korean cars in the market today. If this S-class is well maintained with low mileage on it, why should it be put at risk of facing restrictions?

For the people who can’t afford to replace their old cars, bear in mind that if such a law came into effect, all vehicles 20 years and older will drop in price dramatically. The gap between the old and new cars will widen, forcing many people who won’t be able to replace their cars to go for public transportation which already is experiencing an increase in prices. Is public transportation ready for more people to be added in traffic?

According to Amer, the law will have special focus on buses. It sounds like microbuses will be included. So how will you restrict microbuses from operating in certain areas in certain times of the day while they have to operate on certain routes across parts of the city, else they will have no use. The law is not yet complete but it certainly will start with the major cities first, because vehicle owners should be granted enough time to work things out, especially owners whose vehicles are involved in a business like public transportation and shipping couriers and similar businesses who might have a fleet of vehicles, most of them 20 years old or closing.

Moving on to classic cars, in the past two years Al-Ahram Weekly reviewed many valuable classic cars and their owners living in Egypt. All the cars were at least 20 years old, and many others were over 50. Such classic cars are considered a national treasure and according to classic car enthusiasts in Egypt, cars 50 years of age cannot be shipped out of the country because they are considered a national treasure. But what about 30 and 40-year-old cars which will definitely go up in value in the future? If the new law applies, the value of classic cars will go down in Egypt which might push its owners to ship them out and maybe sell them. Some classic car collectors in Egypt own over 30 cars so imagine one morning you wake up finding that your classic car collection just lost more than half its value.

Ayman Abdel-Wahed is a classic car enthusiast with taste, owning a stunning 1982 W123 Mercedes 230CE and a 1991 W126 300SE. Abdel-Wahed is concerned. “I can’t imagine how this law affects classic cars in a way that we can’t enjoy them anymore.” Abdel-Wahed does not want to let go of his cars for any reason. He wants to use them every day as they are in pristine condition.

There are businesses that rely on old cars starting from spare parts shops and ending with the mechanics and interior technicians. How will these businesses be affected by such a dramatic transition? A chairman of one of the biggest car dealers in Egypt who preferred to remain anonymous told the Weekly that such a law is blessed by car dealers who experienced a long recession in car sales in the past year with a huge portion of customers moving to the used cars market. So after the new law many customers will definitely prefer to spend their money on a more secure investment. So, is the law really aiming in the first place at stopping old cars from polluting the environment and risking people’s lives. Or does it have other intentions?

Yes, the amount of pollution emitted by vehicles in Egypt and especially within Cairo is high as is the high number of road accidents, but the new law needs to be based more on a better detailed study that can support its application. The law should also be applied across a planned period of time, as in France and the UK, like the plan encouraging hybrid and electric cars. Let’s wait and see.

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