MOTORISTS are set to be the biggest losers after next week's austerity Budget.
Hard-pressed drivers could be crippled by hikes in car tax and fuel prices.
It has emerged that the Government is gearing up to lash road users with a 5pc hike in motor tax as well as a 4c rise in the price of petrol.
And those driving environmentally friendly vehicles look set to be penalised most -- with an extra €64 set to be slapped on their annual motor tax.
The AA and haulage groups have today slated the plans - with the government being warned that the measures will "wipe out businesses".
Motor tax will rise generally by 5pc, however owners of vehicles with the lowest fuel emissions -- band A -- will face increases of up to 63pc.
Those driving band B cars are facing into a grim winter also, with increases of between €156-€220 set to be imposed.
And those driving cars that fall into the band C category will be hit with increases of between €302-€350.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan will heap more on families when he imposes increases of between €5-€10 per tonne in carbon taxes.
The motor tax hikes will generate an estimated €50m for the exchequer while the carbon tax increase should raise in the region of €100m.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has admitted that motorists are facing the hit.
"There are going to be adjustments in the bands and there are going to be adjustments in the rates. The Minister for Finance has to use some of those resources for adjustments in the budget," he said.
Eoin Gavin, of the Irish Road Haulage Association, told the Herald he feared companies in the transport and export businesses would be "wiped out".
"Significant increases in the price of fuel as well as motor tax will cripple our members and definitely impact in jobs."
And the AA's Conor Faughnan said: "The tax hikes will simply just take money out of people's pockets and away from other sectors of the economy."