Fleet News

Call for Government to bring in enviro-rebates

THE Government should introduce a system of environmentally-friendly vehicle rebates to encourage fleets and company car drivers to take to the wheel of ultra-clean hybrid vehicles. Instead of using motorists - and particularly company car drivers - as a cash cow, with plans for a range of new taxes, the Government should reward motorists who opt for the new 'clean' vehicles.

Such a system, which could be worth 'a few hundred pounds' to fleets, company car drivers and private motorists, would initially apply to petrol/electric hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and £17,000 Honda Insight, both of which are due to go on sale in the UK in the next three to four months. The rebate scheme would apply to other hybrid and fuel cell vehicles as they were launched, according to Toyota GB managing director Graham Smith.

Such a scheme would be different to the Government's Powershift programme, which has limited funds and is only available to operators of gas-powered, electric and hydrogen vehicles. The organisation has yet to decide whether hybrid vehicles will qualify for funding. Smith revealed his plan at the Geneva Motor Show and it won immediate backing from Japanese manufacturing rival Honda.

'The attitude of Government to hybrid vehicles is crucial. If the Government really means business about delivering globally-agreed environmental clean-up targets, then it must balance its apparent anti-car stance and negative fiscal measures with encouragement for the introduction of hybrid-type vehicles,' said Smith. With the Budget less than two weeks away and a large hike in duty on petrol and diesel almost inevitable, which will send fleet costs soaring, Smith's plea to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown is timely.

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