Association of Car Fleet Operators director Stewart Whyte said: 'The plan is good news for fleet managers and company car drivers who are prepared to think and act strategically. They can plan for future sensible use of the company car as an important strand of business travel.
'Forward-thinking fleet managers should start to explore the use of road, rail and travel information systems in John Prescott's brave new world,' added Whyte, who suggested that fleet chiefs content to carry on focusing on the company car regardless would become extinct.
'Fleet managers should be running the fleet according to their business needs and that will include the company car, but it will also encompass all modes of travel. Just as the Government is constructing an integrated transport policy embracing roads, rail and buses, so fleet managers must have their own integrated transport strategy.'
Norman Donkin, director-general of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said: 'With money being spent on public transport together with the Government's commitment to spend more in the next decade it has become much more sensible for a fleet manager to look at all transport options.'
The Government says that businesses, including fleet chiefs, could further influence transport policy and congestion through greater use of the internet, e-commerce, home working and teleworking.
Simon Boggis, group fleet procurement manager for TNT UK said the April 2002 changes in company car tax to a carbon dioxide-based system with the scrapping of the 2,500 and 18,000 mileages would have 'a dramatic effect' on congestion.
'There is tremendous pressure on fleet managers from company car drivers who want to drive in pursuit of lower tax bills, but remove that and it will be amazing how much drivers buy into using alternative means of transport and working,' said Boggis.
Janet Siddall, who as facilities services manager for Powergen helps run a 450-car fleet, said: 'We are three months into a strategy that has seen us move away from pure acceptance of the company car to introduce video conferencing, car sharing, rail travel and short term car hire. The role of the fleet manager is changing.'
For further reaction and analysis, see this week's edition of sister title Fleet News.