Fleet News

Boots urges its drivers to go diesel

ONE of Britain's biggest high street names is recommending the latest diesel cars to its high-mileage drivers to keep their tax liability down. Boots has issued a leaflet to its company car drivers explaining the rule changes surrounding company car tax due next year.

Drivers covering more than 18,000 business miles a year stand to lose the most when the carbon dioxide emissions-based regulations are introduced in April 2002, and Boots has recommended switching to hi-tech common rail diesels. Fleet manager Ray Ellison said: 'We have advised our drivers who cover more than 18,000 miles a year to look at certain models which will keep their benefit-in-kind liability at 18% at least until 2005. We have recommended that drivers look at the newest type of 'clean' diesel cars, like the Vauxhall Astra ECO diesel, which has a CO2 rating of 119g/km.'

Boots runs about 700 high-mileage cars in its fleet of 2,500 and Ellison believed many drivers would make the switch to diesel. But manufacturers like Honda, which does not currently offer a diesel engine, say some fleet managers are arbitrarily imposing a threshold of 200g/km without fully understanding the rule changes. Nick Philips, head of corporate sales, believes the threshold has been chosen simply because it is a round figure but it falls below the halfway point between the opposite ends of the spectrum.

He told Fleet NewsNet: 'It is frustrating that not many fleet managers seem to know enough about the CO2 issue, and it's up to us and other manufacturers to keep educating people. This isn't rocket science, and in many ways it's simpler than the current system based on mileage. I have met fleet managers who are very aware of the situation and have been very good at communicating with staff about what it means to them.'

He said the halfway point between the highest and lowest bands in 2002/3 will be 215g/km, or BIK tax based on 25% of the vehicle's price new. Honda will lose out because although its 1.8-litre engine produces 203g/km of carbon dioxide, and is rounded down to the 200g/km band, fleet managers will ignore it because it is above the 200g/km threshold.

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