No Polish Cars, Please - We're British

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
no polish cars please we re british

The United Kingdom always had been a reluctant—and sometimes recalcitrant—member of the EU. Some of Her Majesty’s subjects still refuse to fully accept the EU’s existence. This may explain why our colleagues at found it worthy to note that “the unexpectedly high take-up of the German government’s scrappage scheme has led to an unexpected side effect—a boost to new car sales in Poland. The combination of the fact that the German scheme doesn’t require the new cars to be purchased within Germany, and the weakness of the Polish zloty—which has fallen by around a third against the euro in the past year—has resulted in more than 10 per cent of new cars sold in Poland being bought by Germans.” And what’s wrong with that?

The side effect is everything but unexpected, and nobody forgot to make it law that the car must be bought in Germany to qualify for the hugely successful Abwrackprämie. Such a law would be against the law. The EU is a common market, its citizens (and car dealers) have the right to buy wherever they like. Attempts of car manufacturers to stop “grey imports” trigger harsh punishment from Brussels. In 1998, Volkswagen had to pay a fine of 200M Deutschmarks (there was no Euro at the time) for messing with free European trade. With the new Block Exemption Regulation that went into effect in 2003, consumers and dealers received the right to buy their cars anywhere in the EU. The manufacturer has to honor the warranty and risks the wrath of Brussels if he balks. Most of the new cars bought in Poland by Germans are likely bought by German car dealers for resale in Germany.

Poland is part of the EU, but its currency is not the Euro. They wish it were. Last year, one Euro bought 3.19 Polish zlotys; currently, a Euro is worth 4.50 zlotys. A few weeks ago, a Euro bought nearly 5 zlotys. In Euro terms, buying in Poland is cheap, which is good for the Polish industry. Reuters says that “new car sales in Poland rose 1.2 percent in the first quarter to nearly 88,000, according to auto research agency Samar, which pinned the gains on buyers from Germany and Slovakia, which also has adopted the euro and has introduced incentives to encourage new vehicle purchases. Poles alone bought 6 percent fewer cars in the first two months of the year than in the same period of 2008.”

The combined effect of the Abwrackprämien boom and the currency rates extends far beyond some Germans buying their Golf across the Polish border—which nobody notices anymore since Poland joined the Schengen Agreement in 2007 and closed all border stations with the EU. According to Industry Week, the increase in car sales in Germany has had the knock-on effect of boosting factories producing small cars in Poland destined for sale on the German market. “Our factory in Tychy, producing the Panda model, the Fiat 500 and Fiat 600, is working at full steam,” said Fiat Auto Poland spokesman, Boguslaw Cieslar. Volkswagen factories in Poznan, Poland, are also “working flat out with order books full for the next three to four months,” said Volkswagen spokesman, Piotr Danielewicz. The Abwrackprämien boom benefits factories in all parts of Europe which work overtime to feed the German beast.

Too bad that the UK doesn’t (PTFOA, take note) have much of an auto industry left. Otherwise, they could have profited more than the Poles. The British pound (the UK isn’t part of the Eurozone either) lost a huge part of its value against the Euro. In January ’07, a Euro bought 0.65 Pounds. Today, a Euro buys 0.9 Pounds. But wait, they have the steering wheel on the wrong side, so European shoppers take their converted Euros to Harrod’s and Selfridge’s instead.

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  • Brasiliangringo Brasiliangringo on Apr 20, 2009

    On a slight tangent I called a Mercedes dealer some months ago in New York to be told they would not deal to anyone outside of the land of milk and honey which was strange especially when I had just seen a brand new un-registered ML320 for £30k(!)with his Dealer show plates on an independent UK dealer forecourt in Bradford/Leeds area, ''just off boat that one mate, 30 bags that..'' said the Uk dealer. Anyhow Us dealer simply explained there's nothing stopping someone in the US ''buying it and selling it on'' then loudly said, ''you got that'' in a snarling American voice and rang off (without suggesting one of these middle men he could sell to and whom i could buy) which i found remarkably foolish and un-enterprising seeing he was probably about to loose his job and probably now has given the economic climate..

  • Brasiliangringo Brasiliangringo on Apr 20, 2009

    I also know somone who recently bought a brand new road ready c220 in poland for 130 000 Zloties to keep in Poland but for comparison to German prices the forex to Euro is about 4.6. Dont forget that price includes vat of 22% + another main cost/tax called Akcyza now at 18% (13% pre Feb 09') for engines greater than 2L and less than 2L 3.3%. That normally makes them pretty dear over there but assume this 2nd tax not payable for exports..

  • Jeff S Years ago Kentucky issued a license plate with a horse running with the words "Unbridled Spirit." The religious right objected and did not want the plate because they believed it encouraged people to go to the race track and bet on horses. Anyone who knows anything about Kentucky knows its famous for raising horses and yes there is Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run but horses in themselves are not sinful. It got so bad that the state issued a blank sticker to put over the horse and the logo. Kentucky also issued a plate for those who were offended stating "In God We Trust." The latest KY plate has no logo and nothing. I always picked the horse because I thought horses were something to be proud of and associated with Kentucky.
  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.