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Why second-hand cars are getting (even more) expensive in Denmark

Used cars have never come cheap in Denmark, and the last year has seen prices increase even further.

New and used cars at a dealership in Denmark in 2017. The price of used cars in the country has accelerated over the last year.
New and used cars at a dealership in Denmark in 2017. The price of used cars in the country has accelerated over the last year. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A relative scarcity of used cars on the market in the last year has helped to push up the price of second-hand automobiles.

A consistent upward trend in prices over the last year shows no sign of decelerating. Last month’s average price increase of 3 percent is the highest ever, according to motoring media Bilbasen, which analysed market figures on behalf of national broadcaster DR.

“The market is overheated. There’s simply such a high demand for used cars. When you combine that with a shrinking supply, we see these massively increasing prices,” an analyst with FDM, the association for Danish motorists, told DR.

Using a four-year-old Skoda Octavia as an example, the price has increased by 30 percent in the last year, from 200,000 kroner to 260,000 kroner, according to Bilbasen.

High demand for used cars is partly a result of longer waiting times on orders for new cars, DR also writes.

That is due to a global shortage in microchips used by all manufacturers in new car production. Closures at harbours and other transport issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic also play a role.

As a result, delivery times on new car orders in Denmark, usually 3-4 months, have approximately doubled.

This means that car dealership forecourts across the country have few used cars available. And even the new models on show are primarily ones that have already been sold and are waiting for delivery.

But used cars were already expensive in Denmark before this. Why? 

Road tax, fuel, insurance and maintenance all contribute to the high costs of running a car in Denmark.

In addition, Vehicle Registration Tax (Registreringsafgift) represents an enormous outlay for motorists and must be added to the purchasing price as well as value-added tax (moms in Danish) to find the total cost of buying a new car.

Although this expense may not be payable on used cars (provided they are already registered and have a valid Danish number plate), the knock-on effect of such high prices for new cars can be felt in the used car market.

READ ALSO: Explained: Why is it so expensive to buy a car in Denmark?

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DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

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