Greece has turned into Europe’s junkyard for used vehicles, as the local market has been dominated by imports of used cars and vans which other countries tend to push abroad due to their high emission rates.
It isn’t that unusual for vehicle imports to turn up that have been rigged to show lower mileage and which had not been inspected as should have been the case, putting passenger safety at risk.
Over the last six years, imports of used passenger vehicles in Greece have risen almost 12-fold, as from 6,280 vehicles in 2013 the number jumped to 71,095 last year, while estimates for 2020 (before the coronavirus outbreak) point to some 80,000 imports. The picture concerning used vans is similar: Data show that imports of secondhand light commercial vehicles (LCVs) amounted to 15,413 last year, against just 7,972 new ones.
Greece has one of the oldest car fleets in the eurozone, and is today comparable with the countries of Eastern Europe. The average age of used imported vehicles is 10.6 years, with just 5.2% of them utilizing modern environmental technology, classified as Euro 5 or 6. Passenger vehicles on Greek roads have an average age of 15.7 years, compared to 11.3 years a decade earlier, while 88% of cars in circulation meet Euro 4 or earlier standards – i.e. are at least a decade old.
The influx of used cars in Greece has environmental, financial and safety consequences. Older-technology vehicles produce higher emissions and the checks on those cars are insufficient. The absence of interconnection among the country’s technical inspection centers (KTEO) means the cars’ data cannot be verified, allowing for falsification. Their prices are also higher than those of local used cars, as they appear to be in a better shapeand to have lower mileage than the latter.
Used imports further benefit from low taxation, as they only contribute one tenth of what has to be paid for domestic used cars. That is because they do not incur any value-added tax, while due to their age they have a very low registration tax.