These repeatedly show that both the environment and the majority of fleet drivers are better off with employees driving newer, 'cleaner' and better maintained company cars than organising their own private motoring. Industry experts believe most company car drivers have no idea how much tax they pay or how much it would cost them to run the same car as a private vehicle. If an 18,000-plus business mileage driver behind the wheel of a Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec, for example, saw his tax bill double, it would only amount to £890 a year - a fraction of the cost of operating the same car privately.
James Langley, client development manager at PHH Vehicle Management and a member of the Cleaner Vehicles Task Force, questioned how many high-mileage company car drivers knew their benefit-in-kind tax bills had soared by 28% as a result of the Budget. 'There could be a rush for personal contract purchase plans and cash for car schemes, but people will not understand what they are buying or how financially efficient it is because they don't know the value of the company car today. Fleet managers must explain that to them.'
Whatever happens, the Government must balance fiscal changes with ensuring there is no wholesale move away from company cars. Such a move would damage its environmental policies as drivers opt for older and poorer maintained vehicles.