On January 1 next year, the number 13 is set to adorn all new cars registered in the Republic of Ireland, writes Padraic Deane.
Now that would not bother me personally, but there are people who are superstitious and avoid the number 13 like the plague. So in January next year, some of Ireland’s new car buyers will have a dilemma - to buy a new car with a 13 plate or wait another year?
The already troubled motor industry regards this as a real problem and expects to see lower new car sales in 2013 specifically for this reason.
There have been a number of solutions suggested, but one stands out as credible. Mark Grainger, who has been working in the motor industry for about 25 years, is the sales director and joint-owner of Dunleas, a Kia dealership in Kilcullen, County Kildare.
Grainger suggests we could turn the problem into a real opportunity for buyers and sellers alike. He says that we could turne around the number 3 in the '13' so that it would read ‘1E’ on the number plate.
It would be a once-off change to solve the problem for superstitious new car buyer and would possibly additionally make the 2013 registration a collector’s item, and increase new car sales among private buyers.
This idea is more practical than some other solutions because Granger says the change only needs to be made to the plate with the car’s registration papers carrying the normal '13' designation. This means there are no additional systems, administration, or other costs for the Government or local authorities.
The question is: Would those potential superstitious car buyers be satisfied with the plate change while still being the owner of a 13 car in their registration documents?
and number plates
I have an another idea that could be set up and ready to go by next January 1, and, it would be a good revenue earner for the exchequer - offer personalised registrations and number plates. Just like buying lottery tickets, it is a voluntary tax, as only those who want to have one need pay for them.
The service could be run by and help fund the Road Safety Authority. The future transfer of all personalised number plates could also be restricted to twice annual auctions organised by the RSA, where all auction fees and transfer charges would also go to the RSA.
In Britain the Government body responsible, the DVLA, has more than 30 million personalised registrations available to buy online. And all registrations are based on their tens of millions old registration numbers. Their basic prices include VAT and the £80 assignment fee. This means there is nothing else to pay except the costs of having the actual physical plates made up.
I would propose a different system which would be a hybrid of the British and American systems. In the US, you can get anything on a number plate as long as it is not offensive or illegal in some way.
All treasured numbers with a minimum of two or three letters (such as name initials ) and one to three numbers could be sold on menu pricing with the most desirable being the most expensive. The revenues from the initial sale of such plates could go directly towards the funding of the RSA. An additional €20 yearly charge (€12.50 for six months or €7.50 for three months ) would be added to road tax for personalised plate holders and this revenue would go to the relevant local authority to help fund road maintenance. Also, when car owners want to transfer their personalised plate to a new car, they would pay a reasonable charge in addition to the new car registration. This would also help fund local authorities.