The latest report REVERSE GEAR. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF IMPORTS OF USED VEHICLES TO POLAND by Piotr Chrzanowski, Joanna Fabiszewska-Solares, Aleksander Śniegocki, Jakub Zawieska


The balance of costs and benefits of mass imports of used vehicles to Poland is quickly becoming worse. A far-reaching change in the approach transport policy is urgently needed to ensure fiscal incentives and funds to support more sustainable forms of mobility.



  • Road transport in the EU is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution. In Poland, it is a key sector for which an increase in GHG emissions has been recorded since 2005, by as much as 85%, while they remained at the same level throughout the European Union.
  • Vehicles over 10 years old dominate in Poland, and the average age of passenger cars is more than 14 years. The car fleet in Poland is outdated, and the age of vehicles has a significant impact on their technical condition.
  • Since joining the EU, Poland has been the largest importer of used vehicles among the Member States, leaving other countries far behind when it comes to the number of imported vehicles. During this period, almost 14.5 million vehicles were brought into Poland, and the number of new registrations of such vehicles is almost twice as high as for new vehicles.
  • Despite the growing share of younger vehicles (up to 4 years old) in import, more than half of the vehicles imported to our country is still older than 10 years, while the average age of an imported car is over 12 years.
  • The increasing age of vehicles means more failures of safety-critical components and even three times higher risk of a fatal accident. According to official statistics, the number of accidents caused by poor technical condition of vehicles is low in Poland, but data from other countries indicate that our national statistics are understated. The actual costs of accidents caused by poor technical condition can be as high as PLN 5.5 billion annually.
  • Compared to new vehicles, higher emissions and fuel consumption of imported used vehicles generate a range of costs for the Polish society. During their use in Poland, vehicles imported in 2019 will:
    • worsen the balance of Poland’s share in the mini-ETS system for buildings and transport by PLN 300 million. In the coming years this cost will increase rapidly for imported cars, as they will be subject to the mini-ETS for longer periods,
    • will generate NOx emission-related health costs of PLN 1 billion. This cost will gradually decrease for imported cars in the subsequent years with growing import of vehicles that meet the latest EURO 6d standard,
    • will increase crude oil imports to Poland by PLN 1.5 billion. This cost will remain at a similar level for imported vehicles in the coming years, since the fuel consumption of both used and new vehicles is going to decrease.
  • The import of used vehicles with diesel engines generates almost 70% of costs related to CO2 emissions and crude oil import, and almost 90% of health costs resulting from NOx emissions, even though they are less than half of the cars imported to Poland. This is due to higher average mileage of diesel cars as well as higher specific emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides.
  • Most of the imported vehicles are disposed of in Poland. The cancellation of the recycling fee in 2016 led to a reduction in the number of legal disposals and an increase in the used parts trade in the grey market.
  • The national fiscal policy towards transport is conservative: the ratio of taxes on means of transport to GDP in Poland is significantly lower than the EU average. Therefore, there is a room for strengthening the fiscal incentives to choose low-emission vehicles and modes of transport. At the same time, this would ensure more funds available for a more sustainable transport policy, in particular the modernisation of the public transport fleet and the reduction of transport exclusion.


The policy brief can be accessed at the following link

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