Brown's green tax measures attacked by BMW

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The Independent Online

The head of BMW's UK operations has launched a savage attack on the "green" tax measures announced by the Chancellor last week, accusing him of lacking a long-term strategy and "tinkering" with the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

The head of BMW's UK operations has launched a savage attack on the "green" tax measures announced by the Chancellor last week, accusing him of lacking a long-term strategy and "tinkering" with the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

The comments by Jim O'Donnell, managing director of BMW UK, are likely to anger ministers still bruised over the way the German car maker kept them in the dark over its plans to pull out of Rover.

Speaking at an annual BMW press dinner on Tuesday night, Mr O'Donnell said: "The British government claims to be serious about reducing CO2 but there is little evidence of any long-term strategy behind what our Chancellor is trying to do. He tinkers with the problem."

In his pre-Budget report, Mr Brown announced a £2.25bn package of measures aimed at rewarding "green motoring" including a 3p cut in duty on ultra-low sulphur petrol and diesel and reductions in road tax for 5.5 million cars with smaller engines.

But Mr O'Donnell said this was "dabbling at the edge of the problem". He said if the Government wanted to help achieve a "quantum leap in emissions reduction" it needed to encourage the development of hydrogen-powered cars, which produce no greenhouse gases at all. Mr O'Donnell added, however, that his confidence in the Government doing this was "not great".

BMW said its "vision" was to have hydrogen-powered cars in production by 2005 that cost the same and performed as well as existing models. One of the stumbling blocks, though, is the lack of a national network of filling stations.

Meanwhile, BMW said it intended to be ready to start producing a new Rolls-Royce model on "day one" when it takes control of the marque from Volkswagen in January, 2003.

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