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Car site helps buyer beware

Buyers of secondhand cars may be helped to avoid duds and frauds by a new official website containing background details on vehicles for sale.

HistoVec is aimed at stopping cheating in personal sales or via small garages, where the kilometrage is wound back or a crash-damaged or written-off car is tarted up to look new.

Consumer protection agency DGCCRF said “half of secondhand sales involved serious or minor fraud” in 2015. Last year 5.7million vehicles were sold on the véhicules d’occasion market.

Investigators have broken up criminal rings that sold more than 6,000 dangerous vehicles in the past five years.

The Interior Ministry wants buyers looking at adverts on sales sites to be able to access vehicle details supplied “in good faith” by the seller for HistoVec.

A version of the site, at the histovec.interieur.gouv.fr/histovec/home address, is open as a test for buyers and sellers to see what is involved. Sellers can create a file on the site with information from the carte grise registration document, such as the first registration, list of previous owners, any accident damage or work done, plus the warranty and if it has been previously stolen.

Buyers contact the seller to be sent a link to read the file.

However, the site has flaws: it will not be fully working until early 2019, it is not mandatory for sellers to upload details, and it covers only vehicles after 2009 with AA-123-ZZ plates.

Critics have long maintained kilometrage should be noted at every contrôle technique (MOT)and updated to the carte grise, along with any repaired faults that previously prevented the vehicle passing its contrôle.

Meanwhile, the year-long saga of carte grise problems goes on, with delays of several weeks in getting vehicle documents.

By April, 450,000 applications were delayed but industry sources say recent changes have improved response times.

Owners of electric bikes rated over 250W or faster than 25kph need a carte grise, as it is seen as a cyclomoteur électrique and also needs a number plate.

Bonus-malus will apply to pick-up trucks

A loophole allowing buyers of pick-up trucks to avoid certain taxes and anti-pollution bonus-malus payments will be closed on January 1.

In 2019 buyers of trucks such as the No1 seller Ford Ranger or Renault Alaskan must pay the taxe sur les véhicules de société based on taxable engine power (from €750-€4,500) and, as they put out more than 200g/km of CO2, must also pay a malus of €10,500 on top of the price.

It is estimated the malus will bring in €200million a year.

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