Fleet News

Ban on car swaps to beat tax rises

DRIVERS fighting to swap into a new company car early to beat costly tax changes face a battle of wills with their fleet managers.

Decision-makers are determined to put up a united front against any demands from drivers and refuse any special requests to change the de-fleet date for their cars.

There are concerns over a predicted steep rise in demand for new fleet diesel cars towards the end of the year as drivers try to beat a January 1 deadline when a special discount for clean diesels is scrapped.

Currently, all diesels meeting Euro IV emission standards are exempt from a 3% company car tax penalty introduced to reflect their higher emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides compared to petrol engines.

But as all manufacturers now have to meet Euro IV standards by law, there is no reason to offer the incentive, so it is being scrapped.

Earlier this year, Vauxhall, Britain’s biggest fleet manufacturer, revealed that it expected a surge in diesel sales.

Other companies disagree, as many fleets will refuse to bring their orders forward. This view was backed by decision-makers at the Midlands region of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, who said they would categorically refuse any special requests to change cars earlier than scheduled.

The meeting heard from one fleet manager who said: ‘The day I start giving in to fleet drivers is the end of being able to manage the fleet.’

His view was supported by the meeting, attended by about 60 people, with a colleague warning: ‘We may have a lot of disgruntled drivers who want to change their cars, but they aren’t going to get them.

‘Either you run the fleet, or your drivers do. They know that we make no allowances for changes in legislation.’

A spokesman for leasing company Masterlease said there had been some cases where fleets had ordered cars early and were planning to leave the vehicles they were replacing parked up to avoid early termination charges.

However, the meeting heard that many drivers did not know how much tax they paid and did not understand how company car tax worked, so for most it would be too late when they realised what had happened anyway.

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