The future of driving is here

2010-09-03 14:15

Back in the 1980s there was a popular Australian TV show called Beyond 2000 which showcased science and technology of the future. That technology is no longer in the distant future. Instead, it has caught up with us – and the new tax emission law is proof of that.

This week saw the implementation of the new tax emission law, which means that anyone who buys a new car from now on has to pay an additional cost if the vehicle emissions are above 120g/km.

Although government has no emission measure system in place, motorists will be adding tax emissions and toll-road systems to their monthly budgets.

Because of the poor fuel South Africans are forced to use, only a handful of “green” cars with fewer emissions are trickling into the local market. Some of the cars available under the 120g threshold include the Toyota Prius, Honda CR-Z, Audi A4 2.0 TDI and the Fiat 500 1.2.

Some manufacturers such as Porsche and Fiat are absorbing the costs of the tax emissions. This applies to all models across the Porsche range and only the Indian-built Punto models from Fiat. Although government is considering implementing this tax emission law on older vehicles already on the road, these cars are still in the clear for the time being.

The open road toll system is part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and will cover 185km of highway roads in Gauteng which include 42 gantries an average of 10km apart. The gantries are the ­actual construction of each toll system housing several hi-tech cameras which will scan the cars using a transponder tag.

GFIP project leader Alex van Niekerk from the South African National Roads Agency Limited explained: “Motorists will have to obtain a transponder tag which can be bought off the shelf at shopping centres, garages or kiosks during the first quarter of next year.

“They will then have to register this tag either online or by phoning the call centre. Their account will then also be set up almost like a pre-paid cellphone SIM card where money will be loaded onto this account before motorists can start using the system.”

For now, the rates at which motorists will be charged will be somewhere between 50c and 85c a kilometre. The transport ­department will confirm the ­official pricing for the toll rates in October.

“Motorists will then be debited daily on the distances travelled on these freeways. Frequent travellers will be offered a discounted rate,” said Van Niekerk.

He added that visitors from out of town will be warned by sufficient signage along the road and will be able to stop and buy a tag along the road.

“Motorists who do not adhere to the new system when it’s operational in April next year will be invoiced and pay the admin fees for them.

“If motorists still ignore these invoices by the time the final one arrives, it will then be handed over to debt collectors.

“They may also then be affected by the new traffic system and lose merits on their driver’s licence,” said van Niekerk.

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