Vehicles in Croatia are increasingly old and unsafe, the number of new cars sold has dropped 60% in the last seven years and one of the consequences is a higher number of car accidents with fatalities, it was said this past week at the Auto-Moto Forum event in Zagreb.

Josip Zaher of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), which organised the event, said that 100,000 vehicles were sold in Croatia in 2008, including 88,000 new ones, while 80,000 vehicles were sold in 2015, including 35,000 new.

"The number of brand new cars sold has dropped 60% since 2008. Their average age in 2008 was 10 years and three months and in 2015 it was 12 years and three months. The number of used imported cars has been on the rise, and one of the consequences is an increase in the number of road fatalities. The number of road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants is 8.1, while the EU average is slightly more than five," said Zaher.

He noted that the state's automobile sector policy was not good and that apart from having been affected by the long-standing economic crisis, the sector had also been affected by unfavourable changes to the VAT Act of 2012.

Agan Begic, head of the Promocija Plus agency, said that since 1991, Croatian laws and regulations on car sales had been changed 25 times.

"The grey economy has become a way of life. Higher taxes have resulted in activities that are outside the legal sphere. The black market is especially present in car sales and maintenance, notably as regards the sale of car parts," said Begic.

He noted that currently 1.85 million cars operated on Croatian roads, with 29% of them being 11-15 years old, while as many as 35% were older than 15 years.

One in three vehicles in Croatia is more than 15 years old, said Begic, adding that between 2008 and 2015, there was a 300% increase in newly-registered used cars, from 11,000 to 44,000. In 2008, the average age of vehicles imported in Croatia was six and a half years, while last year it was eight and a half years.

All of this takes a toll on security - in 2014 there were 308 road fatalities, and in 2015 there were 348 deaths, he said.

"That is to a significant extent the result of increasingly old cars although on average, we use cars less today," Begic said, adding that in 2008 Croatians drove 16,345 kilometres annually on the average, and in 2015 the average amount of driven kilometres was 12,807 kilometres.

According to HGK data presented at the event, Croatia is 22nd in the EU in terms of the number of new passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants, with only eight new cars sold, while the EU average is 25 new cars per 1,000 inhabitants.

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