Research by contract hire company ACL has highlighted how the tyre bills of popular company cars have escalated rapidly in recent years. The Ford Focus 1.8 TDI CL, for example, is fitted with a 185/65 HR14, while the Ford Focus 1.8 TDI Zetec has a tyre size of 195/60 VR15 costing 37% more, and capable of 130mph-plus despite the car's claimed top speed of 114mph. The new Vauxhall Vectra 2.0 CDX, meanwhile, has received specification changes that include the fitment of 205/55 VR16 tyres, costing 60% more than the previous 195/65 HR15s, which over a three-year/60,000-mile contract could increase maintenance costs by more than £300, or £9 per month.
Simon Richmond, director and general manager of ACL, said: 'With tyre costs making up an increasing proportion of the total maintenance budget (as much as 50% for certain highly-specified versions) any change in tyre specification can have a quite significant effect on SMR costs. While manufacturers are clearly interested in achieving sales targets and will often produce 'special editions' with fancy wheels and a few other 'add ons' to attract buyers, little or no thought is given to the impact on rentals and wholelife costs.'
Richmond believes many leasing companies overlook these significant cost differences when new models are introduced and then hike up subsequent rental charges when the full picture emerges, inevitably raising questions among drivers as to why a vehicle previously within their allowance is outside.