Fleet News

Industry in dispute with Government over CO2 muddle

HEAD-to-head talks between Government and leading fleet suppliers to help fleets prepare for carbon dioxide-based company car tax have ended in dispute after they failed to reach agreement on the best way to help the industry. The talks came after research revealed widely-differing carbon dioxide figures for the same vehicle, depending on which source is used.

The Inland Revenue says it will accept CO2 figures on current cars from information supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders or the Vehicle Certification Agency for tax purposes if the CO2 figure is not supplied on the V5 document and it is prepared to allow for slight discrepancies. But the round-table talks were aimed at hammering out a programme of reform to ensure fleet managers and drivers are presented with reliable, accurate and up-to-date information on vehicles' CO2 emissions from all sources.

They follow a series of high-profile errors in the Government's guidance for fleets, with the official guide, the Vehicle Certification Agency's New Car Fuel Consumption and Emissions Figures, attacked for containing errors that could lead to drivers being taxed more than they expected.

Meetings have taken place between the Inland Revenue, Association of Car Fleet Operators, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Vehicle Certification Agency, CAP Network, Henley Systems and Interleasing aimed at improving the situation. But rather than achieving a wider sharing of information and giving a clearer direction on where the information is available, the sides could not agree on a joint policy for providing CO2 data.

Stewart Whyte, director of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, said: 'Suppliers must be considered on risk if they provide speculative CO2 information and similarly consumers, fleet managers and company car drivers must be considered on risk if they accept speculative CO2 information.'

Gavin Keer-Keer, pricing manager for Interleasing, said: 'A recent sample of VCA, SMMT and CAP data recorded only a 9% correlation between the three sources. Even though the VED and benefit-in-kind tax is based on CO2 bands, a discrepancy rate of 74% was still prevalent. This adds to the sense of confusion, creating an impossible position for fleets. Fleet management companies could also be forced to refund or recharge incorrectly quoted VED on a large scale some time after receipt of the V5 document.'

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