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Cash-for-car threat to greener transport

THE Government's environmentally-friendly vehicle policies are being undermined by cash-for-car schemes, because many employees opting for private motoring choose older, dirtier cars, new research shows.

A survey by the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO), covering 750 members, has lifted the lid on the latest crisis to hit the Government's green transport problems. The results were revealed shortly after the Government announced it was slashing grants for companies wanting to switch to alternative fuels and also that it was increasing duty levels on liquefied petroleum gas.

The survey covered members responsible for a total fleet of more than 600,000 vehicles and found that in 75% of the cases where drivers had chosen cash instead of a company car, they had chosen to drive cars that were no more environmentally-friendly than if they had stayed loyal to the company-provided vehicle.

The survey also found that 39% of staff had stayed in roughly the same type of car they were entitled to under the company car scheme, but 21% had traded up to a new but larger and less fuel-efficient car with higher CO2 emissions.

A further 12% of staff had traded up to an older, larger and less fuel efficient car with higher CO2 emissions, while only 16% of staff had chosen a new, smaller and 'cleaner' car.

A further 5% of staff had traded down to an older, smaller car, which was probably less fuel efficient with higher CO2 emissions, while 7% of staff had gone for an older car of roughly the same body/engine size.

ACFO carried out the study among its members' fleets to help the Treasury and Inland Revenue identify the impact of the company car benefit-in-kind tax system it introduced in 2002.

ACFO director Stewart Whyte said: 'The results show that an overwhelming percentage of drivers opting out of a company car are electing to drive a car that is no more environmentally-friendly than if they had stayed loyal to the company-provided car.

'But the survey also reveals that, worryingly for the Government, many drivers have opted for new, larger cars and, even more alarmingly, larger and older – and probably much less 'green' models.

'The implication from this is clear. Drivers moving out of the company car environment are not doing so to drive greener. Rather, it is the reverse: they are electing to drive less-green cars.

'This undermines the Government's intentions – and may also do so with a reduced tax inflow to Treasury.'

Option selected Overall response
1. New, smaller 16%
2. Used, smaller 5%
3. Used, similar 7%
4. New, similar 39%
5. New, larger 21%
6. Used, larger 11%

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