Fleet News

Prius sails in to uncharted waters

ELECTRIC vehicles remain largely an unexplored topic among the UK's fleets, according to Toyota, which showcased its Prius hybrid at the London Motor Show. The company believes fleets' attention has been diverted from exploring alternative power sources by concern over what the final outcome of the Government's assessment of the benefit-in-kind legislation based on carbon dioxide emissions will be.

The Prius is the world's first production hybrid car, powered by electricity and petrol, which will go on sale in the UK in the autumn, offering superior fuel economy and ultra-low exhaust emissions. The European version was on show and four demonstrators have been 'on the road' for the last six months.

But Paul Philpott, Toyota marketing manager, said: 'Fleets don't yet know enough about the Prius. Local authorities have green agendas but they have not so far been proactive enough to find out what technology is out there. The response we've had has been positive, but we are really waiting to see the final decision on the company car tax scheme.

'If the new system is finally based on carbon dioxide emissions then interest will grow because companies will want to minimise tax bills and the best way to do that will be to find vehicles with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions.' The reaction from leasing companies has been similar. 'They like the car, but they're not sure about the residual values,' Philpott said. Toyota also appears to be uncertain since Philpott revealed that a strategy to 'put people's minds at rest' over RVs was still being developed.

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