The idea of universal car ownership is one of the 20th-century freedoms we may take for granted.
How it endures in the face of efforts to avert climate catastrophe is an ever-sharper question. That question is being asked already through new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP) which, according to the Irish motor industry, will increase new car prices by at least €2,500 and, much more importantly, put as many as 12,000 jobs in jeopardy.
New car sales are declining, down 7.4% for the first quarter and a 9% fall is predicted for next year.
That is, according to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, driven by domestic taxes and the Brexit fall in sterling that makes importing used cars so attractive — a process created in the first instance by Irish car prices out of line with other EU countries.
The industry warns that a failure to adjust taxes in light of WLTP tests could have disastrous consequences.
SIMI says that a no-change tax system would see new car sales decline next year. Some industry leaders have predicted a figure as low as or 55,000 — a level not seen since of the 2009 recession.
As transport is one of the great sources of carbon emissions it might be tempting to argue that this might ultimately be a good thing but in a week when a sector at least as polluting — the beef sector — got €100m in State aid the 12,000 motor workers wondering about job security might reasonably wonder why they are being treated so very differently.