Fleet News

Fleet Panel: Fair treatment for diesel

ONE of the most contentious issues of the new carbon dioxide-based company car tax regime which comes into force in April is the decision to add a 3% tax supplement to diesel cars not meeting strict emissions standards.

Although diesel cars are much more fuel-efficient than their petrol counterparts, producing much less of the greenhouse gas the Government is targeting, scientists claim they produce a whole range of other emissions that are harmful to health.

Rocketing cases of asthma in the young are blamed on local pollution, particularly that caused by diesel-powered vehicles.

Critics of the Government's policy claim that much of the pollution is caused by buses, lorries and taxis, not by cars.

Manufacturers are adamant that their latest ranges of diesel engines are many times cleaner than they were only a few years ago.

While the Government ponders its next move, drivers are voting with their choice lists and moving in unprecedented numbers to diesel.

Despite the 3% penalty, the very low CO2 emissions of many diesels mean they are still a cheaper option in terms of company car tax bills than their petrol counterparts.

A significant majority of this week's fleet panel is adamant that the 3% diesel supplement is wrong, particularly because it ignores the immense improvements in emissions achieved by diesel manufacturers in only the past year.

However some fleet managers admit that until diesel meets the highest standards set by petrol and all worries over emissions are set aside, adding an extra charge for diesel is the environmentally-friendly thing to do.

##Yes 19--left## ##No 81--right##

'Do diesel-powered cars deserve the 3% supplement under the new CO2-based benefit-in-kind tax system?'

The current obsession with emissions seems to have overshadowed other environmental issues like the rate we are using an irreplaceable resource, namely oil. The higher efficiency of diesel engines means using less oil for each journey and diesel engine efficiency is improving rapidly. There is also one other issue rarely mentioned, that of safety - guess which type of fuel I would rather be using when sandwiched between lorries on a foggy motorway?
Bill Pinkney Transport Consultancy Services

If the Government can prove beyond reasonable doubt that modern diesel cars produce more harmful local particulates than a petrol car then yes. However, surely a badly tuned/serviced petrol car is just as polluting? Certainly any diesel with a particulate filter should be exempted. A better idea would be to charge all cars (petrol and diesel) over four years old at April 5 annually with the supplement to discourage businesses from running older, less clean vehicles. With my cynical hat on, I think the 3% was put on when the Treasury realised the losses the Inland Revenue would incur due to people moving towards diesel.
Ian Smith Group Accountant CPiO

We have to recognise that some manufacturers have made incredible steps forward in diesel technology in recent years. Many diesel cars are now cleaner than their petrol counterparts and of course return a much better MPG. Couple this with the technological improvements and is it any wonder many more perk car drivers are now opting for a diesel car.
John Clarke Fleet Services (South)

Originally I thought the supplement unfair, and as a diesel driver I would welcome its removal. However, judging by the demand for diesels shown by both company car drivers it looks like someone in the Inland Revenue knew what they were doing. Drivers who once would never have considered a diesel are now ditching petrol.
T.M. Details supplied

No. It just seems a way of raising the tax amount on vehicles which are in some cases as clean or cleaner than petrol vehicles.
Nick Welch Pinnacle Insurance

There is no justification to punish diesel drivers. If the Government thinks this charge will put pressure on manufacturers to clean up their diesels they are wrong. Even with the 3% penalty most of my drivers are still going to be better off under the Government's new tax system, driving smelly new polluting diesels!
D.M. East Lothian Council

We now operate a 100% diesel fleet and have specified diesels for the past eight years. Diesel technology has come along in leaps and bounds over the last few years and my belief is that diesels are now among the cleanest engines on the market and becoming increasingly more so. More fuel efficient, more powerful (certainly in lower end torque) and quieter.
DB Details supplied

As I've got a diesel the answer must be no! As with most taxation, the logic applied in arriving at the rates is pretty flawed anyway - if the Government didn't apply this surcharge to diesels they'd find something else to bung it on.
Tony Cock Financial director British & Brazilian Produce Co. (Sales)

YES, assuming the Government has made a fair assessment of the amounts of pollution caused by the respective fuels.

No. Diesel is being unfairly targeted by the Government. In addition to the 3% surcharge, the tax burden on diesel is increasing all the time, making the case for operating diesels weaker. I believe this is the main reason for the low uptake on LPG as companies are frightened to make the initial investment only to then find the savings eroded by yet another stealth tax.
Mick Donovan Group fleet manager Bowmer & Kirkland

Given the recent advances in diesel technology, the continued investment by manufacturers in even better technology, and the fuel economy advantages of diesel, such a supplement is illogical - and inconsistent with the supposed environmental basis of the new system.
Nigel Trotman Whitbread

Yes. Diesel-powered cars do deserve the penalty, on the grounds that the Government didn't want to see a swing to diesels. It is now clear that it should have been much higher than 3%. Environmentalists now seem to be suggesting diesel causes other problems due to particulate emissions that may be worse than petrol - but the Government opted for CO2 as the only measure. Even with the 3% surcharge, most of our fleet will be diesel by April 6.

No, but meeting Euro IV emissions is important. The industry must lose the image of diesel being 'dirty', be this justified or not. Hence the advancement of diesel technology is being driven by Government incentive and the manufacturers will respond quicker with the 3% penalty.

No. It doesn't take account of the quantum leap in diesel technology in the last couple of years. The probable explanation is that Gordon Brown worked out the tax take when the new policy was dreamed up several years ago, and couldn't then change it to take new circumstances into account. However, the equitable solution would be to ratchet up the whole CO2 matrix by say 1% and drop the diesel penalty.

No. Many of our drivers have chosen diesel cars to save money and help the environment, but they are being penalised. It seems whatever company car drivers do, they cannot win.
Audrey Milne, Corgi

The supplement is undeserved. The charge is made because diesels cause a direct human health problem, whereas the petrol emission causes a less direct problem. There should be a less punitive system in operation - to recognise that all emissions are bad and the car manufacturers and oil companies should be further encouraged to develop more appropriate engines/fuel to achieve lower emissions.
Details supplied

No, I don't think it is fair at all. Why should a driver be penalised for driving a car with very low emissions. Isn't the point being missed somewhere along the line? If the Government wants us in greener cars then it needs to come up with better incentives for us to do so.

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