BMW chief attacks road pricing plans

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The Independent Online

A top BMW executive has criticised the Government's plans to introduce nationwide road tolls, saying it is not clear what benefit the scheme will bring.

Jim O'Donnell, the managing director of BMW UK, also attacked the rising burden of tax and regulation in Britain, saying motorists were already contributing £45bn a year to the Exchequer or 11 per cent of all government tax revenues.

Speaking at the German car maker's annual UK press dinner on Tuesday night, Mr O'Donnell said: "The principle of road pricing seems to be accepted in political circles with the Government looking to introduce a nationwide charging structure by 2015. However, it is not at all clear what will be the real benefit to this country. Industry in the UK already has a logistical penalty vis-à-vis our continental competitors. A robust cost/benefit analysis is needed. So far this appears to be sadly lacking and the plan seems to be designed to compensate for a lack of proper transport infrastructure."

His comments follow hard on the heels of the announcement by Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary, of an extension of pilot trials on road pricing. Backing for road tolls is also expected to be a key feature of the report on Britain's transport system which the former chief executive of British Airways, Sir Rod Eddington, is due to submit shortly.

Separately, BMW is to create hundreds of jobs with the production of a "mini Rolls Royce" at the firm's Goodwood factory near Chichester. Ian Robertson, chairman of the luxury car maker, said the new model would cost £160,000-£200,000 and would go on sale before 2010. Production will be at least equal to the 800 Phantoms built each year.

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