EC duty change means ATV prices may rise

ATV prices in the UK are set to go up by as much as 10%, thanks to changes in the way the EU charges duty on machines imported into this country.

In the past, utility machines of the sort used by farmers attracted no import duty, whereas leisure-oriented models generally paid a 10% duty. But in November last year the European Commission changed the rules so that all ATVs attracted either a 7% or 10% duty (depending on towing capacity), unless they were factory-fitted with a winch.

According to Stephen Morris, national sales manager for ATVs at market leader Honda, the EC decision was taken unusually quickly and without much discussion.

“It doesn’t seem to be a well-thought-out decision and is out of line with what these utility ATVs are actually used for,” he said. “We and the other makers have developed products designed for the uses that farmers put them to. They’re a work tool.”

Mr Morris says that Honda could have achieved the 7% duty level by increasing its machines’ towing capacity. However it has chosen to fit a winch as standard to continue getting the 0% duty rate. But the cost of fitting a good quality winch adds about 7% to the cost of the ATV, so prices will still rise by that amount. “But at least, this way, the customer gets some extra value,” he says.

Another option open to ATV manufacturers is to appeal against the EC duty changes, but that could be lengthy and difficult. EU-made machines are not affected but these involve comparatively small manufacturers. The best-known UK maker, Ecorider, went into administration last year.

Existing stock can still be sold at the existing 0% duty rate, says Mr Morris, but since 26 February all machines coming into the UK have come under the new rules. That applies to all makes of ATV, though some (like Arctic Cat diesels) already fit winches as standard.