HELSINKI – A graveyard for used cars

While many cities in Europe are finding new ways to improve air quality by implementing air quality control methods and measures, Finland is becoming a graveyard for used and heavy-polluting cars banned elsewhere.

Last year, it was estimated that almost 50,000 old vehicles were imported to the country, compared to 40,000 in 2018 and 30,000 in 2017. And with this trend showing no signs of weakening for 2020, it will surely make a dent in the country’s climate targets

Roughly 60% of Europe’s used cars now originate from Sweden, meaning the country has now replaced Germany (23%) as the number one destination for car hunters.

The reason is simply the purchase price, as Sweden abolished the tax on motor vehicles in 1996, while the tax in Finland varies between 2.7% and 48.9% depending on carbon emissions.

The average age of a car in Finland has climbed up to over twelve years, leading to the word “cubanization” has been mentioned. Occupying the podium in the imported cars race is the muscular trio of Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW – often equipped with diesel engines.

All this is worrying in many respects, as it not only means that the taxman is losing more than €100 million and car dealers around €800 million per year, but also that road safety cannot be improved with a growing fleet of old cars being in use.

For the government, this phenomenon makes it more difficult to reach climate targets. Traffic is already responsible for around 20% of the country’s emissions. Car dealers are demanding a lower tax rate on new cars. In the name of climate change, they may find common ground with the government. (Pekka Vänttinen |

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