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Norwegian motorcyclists want tax based on emissions, not on horsepower

The Norwegian Motorcycle Union (NMCU) hopes that a new and fairer tax system for motorcycles will be in place in Norway within a few years.

The Norwegian Motorcycle industry – represented by the importers from the motorcycle wholesalers’ association NMCF – demands a fairer taxation system on motorcycles, a system that is similar to the system for cars, based on emissions and weight. Today’s tax for motorcycles is based on engine capacity and effect.

NMCU’s general secretary Morten Hansen.

Norwegian motorcyclists’ organization NMCU (an FEMA member, ed.) is playing a major part in bringing about this tax reform. They work very closely with both the government and the newly created Norwegian motorcycle dealer association NMCF.

One major obstacle when creating a new tax system for motorcycles more similar to cars, is that the motorcycle industry was not required to hand over emission figures. But with the introduction of Euro 4, this changed. Now we need motorcycle producers to provide figures for both CO2 and NOx. The path is thus cleared to calculate motorcycle charges differently.

Will a new, fairer tax system give us cheaper motorcycles? NMCU’s general-secretary Morten Hansen explains: “A large part of the motorcycles on Norwegian roads will probably get a lower tax, but it has not been NMCU’s main focus in this matter. We have focused on getting a system that rewards those models with lower tail pipe emissions. For authorities and politicians, this is a more reasonable and more tangible approach to this issue. The present taxation scheme for motorcycles has been significantly higher than the taxation scheme for cars and did not reflect environmental and traffic-related benefits motorcycles may have, particularly in urban transport.”

Morten Hansen continues: “We in NMCU have received positive signals from the political environment – from left to right. The so called ‘green shift’ (increased focus on the environmental aspects of traffic) is deeply rooted in most political parties and in society at large.” But will the state not lose a lot of money when bikes get reduced tax? Morten Hansen: “Everyone wants an environment-based tax system. If such an arrangement means less money for the treasury, if that is the price for a green shift, the government should be willing to bear the costs.”

The new tax system will be based on three main points: the amount of CO2 emitted, the amount of NOx emitted and the motorcycle’s weight. Morten Hansen: “The weight and the CO2 emission are exact figures, but there are no precise figures for the amount of NOx emitted by different motorcycle models. However, Euro 4 sets a NOx limit value (70g/km). Therefore, NMCU suggested that this limit value will be used for all models when calculating the tax. It will make the whole process easier and less bureaucratic.”

NMCU says that the test cycle that is currently used for motorcycles (WMTC) is far more precise and more realistic than the more theoretical and laboratory-based test system that is used for the type aproval of cars, which may have been one of the reasons for the large Volkswagen scandal in this area. NMCU’s Morten Hansen said: “The test cycle implemented for motorcycles is more dynamic and more realistic. Therefore, we trust that a new, environment-based tax system for motorcycles will soon be in place. The new tax system will us CO2 as a measure of the vehicle’s environmental impact, NOx as the measure of local pollution and the weight reflects road wear.

This article was written by Claus Diseth and was originally published in Norwegian in the Bikeport magazine.

Photograph of Morten Hansen by NMCU

Top photograph by Hans Vestre