The latest guide was condemned in July by the Association of Car Fleet Operators for its 'lack of clarity' which rendered it 'useless'. This attack appears to have prompted the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions into action, and in a letter to ACFO director Stewart Whyte, Iain Todd, head of the DETR's Vehicle, Environment and Taxation division, said: 'We are working with vehicle manufacturers on the January edition of the document. As part of this work we aim to improve its user-friendliness.'
He said that the revised VCA booklet would be suitable for 'indicative purposes', but added that: 'The definitive CO2 value for a particular vehicle - and hence the tax liability of the owner - will be that which appears on the registration document of the vehicle.' This will require a modification of the V5 vehicle registration document, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is due to hold negotiations with manufacturers about the change.
Whyte said it was imperative that the new booklet was written in plain English and had a standard format, but voiced additional concerns about the delay between new model launches and their appearance in the biennial VCA booklet. He also claims the modification of every V5 was 'completely unworkable'.
'Until now we had assumed that when the new tax system is introduced it will be on a declaration basis. But if what Todd says is accurate then it would seem that one of only two things could happen,' said Whyte. 'Either the DVLA will have to cross reference every car on the road with an emission figure and then reprint 22 million registration documents or when the new system is introduced it will be on a two-tier basis. Drivers in cars without an emission figure on the V5 will be taxed on one basis and those with on another.'