In Depth

New cars and motoring laws 2019: Brexit impact, car tax and more

Recent changes may have a major impact on drivers over the next 12 months

It was busy year for the motoring world in 2018, but the promise of exciting car launches and driving law changes suggests 2019 will be another hectic year for the industry.  

With tweaks to electric car rules and new emissions tests set to shake up the market, as well as continuing uncertainty over Brexit , here’s everything car lovers and drivers can expect over the next 12 months: 

What cars are launching?

Among the most noteworthy cars heading to showrooms in 2019 is the Tesla Model 3.

While the Elon Musk-backed carmaker launched its budget EV in North America in July 2017, the Model 3 has yet to find its way to the UK. That changes this year, though, as sales open for the electric car in Europe.

Model 3s began appearing in Tesla’s UK dealers last December, giving fans and pre-order customers in Britain a first glimpse of the car. 

It’s expected to go on sale in the second half of 2019 and will be priced from around £46,500, according to Autocar.

Supercars set to dominate headlines in the coming months, meanwhile, include McLaren’s track-only Senna GTR and a production-ready version of Mercedes-AMG’s One.

Unveiled “over a year ago”, the AMG One is powered by a 1,000bhp 1.6-litre turbo V6 hybrid engine derived from Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 car, says Evo. All 275 have been sold, each carrying a price tag of £2.4m. 

For car buyers on the hunt for more attainable models, the new BMW 3 Series, the highly-anticipated Toyota Supra and the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQC are all just months away from hitting the showrooms, notes Auto Express.  

How are motoring laws changing?

Unlike the step from 2017 to 2018, when major changes to the MoT and driving test system were introduced, there aren’t any significant law tweaks for 2019. 

However, there were a few law changes introduced towards the end of 2018 that will have a big impact on carmakers and buyers in the coming months. 

The most notable is the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). The system aims to deliver more accurate real-world test results for electric and combustion-engined cars. 

So what does this mean for buyers? Well, The Daily Telegraph suggests the new format should provide more accurate fuel economy and battery range figures, allowing customers to make a “better-informed buying decision”.

But it could mean some car owners pay more in road tax, according to the Daily Express. That’s because the more accurate results from WLTP tests could bump some vehicles into higher tax brackets.

This, however, should be less of an issue this year as car manufacturers introduce models that have been developed with the WLTP regulations in mind. 

Buying an electric or hybrid car will also cost slightly more in 2019. Last October, the £4,500 grant provided by the Government to push more people towards buying plug-in electric vehicles was cut to £3,500. 

Hybrid car buyers are also no longer eligible for the £2,500 grant that had been available in 2018. 

Will Brexit affect driving abroad?

Potentially, but that all depends on whether Britain can strike a deal with the European Union before the 29 March deadline. 

Last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a warning to expats that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, they “may have to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there”, The Guardian reports.  

The DfT says some Britons may be eligible to simply exchange their UK driving licence for an EU version - and urges them to consider doing so “as soon as possible”. 

Meanwhile, Britons looking to drive in an EU country on holiday may be required to purchase an international driving permit. 

At the moment, three kinds of driving permits are available across the world, related to driving conventions signed by different countries in 1926, 1949 and 1968.

If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers would need to purchase one of these permits over the counter at a post office, at a cost of £5.50 for a 12-month period.

According to Auto Express, most EU countries ratified the 1968 convention, but a 1949 permit would be needed to drive in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Spain. 

Drivers would also need to carry their UK photo card driving licence with them in conjunction with their international driving permit, the motoring mag adds.

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