More drivers are staying within the company fleet, while among executives, company cars – particularly premium models – are being seen as a perk of the job again.
The research continues the debate about the future of the company car, after previous reports showed a large swing among company car drivers into cash alternatives following the introduction of the new emissions-based benefit-in-kind tax rules.
Adrian Short, head of Audi business sales, which revealed the latest research, said: ‘Cash-for-car became fashionable, particularly in 2002, when people weren’t sure how the new tax system was going to affect them financially.
‘But from what we’ve seen, the demand for cash-for-car is dramatically slowing down. The cost of having a company car is acceptable to fleets, they’re becoming increasingly aware of legislation and we are seeing a swing back to company cars.’
Short believes firms are more reluctant to lose control of what their employees drive for business.
By moving back to company cars, firms can be more certain they are meeting their duty of care to drivers by offering them well-maintained and properly-insured vehicles, which are changed regularly.
According to figures presented by Audi, the number of firms offering cash-for-car, and the number of drivers taking that option, has dropped from an all-time high in 2002.
Figures suggest that nearly 74,500 drivers were accepting salary in lieu of a car in 2002, while a year later the number had dropped to just over 53,000, the lowest figure for three years.
The number of drivers offered a cash option also dropped from just under 700,000 in 2001 to less than 500,000 this year, while about 40% of fleets give their drivers the choice of leaving their company car behind. This figure has not changed much over the period, suggesting that while the offer of cash was still on the table for many fleets, drivers were becoming more aware that the benefit-in-kind tax changes were not as punitive as they might have at first thought.
Further details will be announced in October, he said.