Regional trials of a scheme will start in five years and the Department for Transport has refused to rule out the possibility of motorists with more polluting cars paying more than those with environmentally-friendly vehicles.
The move is part of forthcoming legislation from the Climate Change Bill and the Road Transport Bill, and industry experts say it means environmentally-friendly cars and mileage management are the way forward for cost-effective fleets.
Contract hire and leasing firm ALD Automotive urged fleets to conduct a ‘root and branch review of the environmental impact of their vehicle operations’.
Fleet operators’ association ACFO says emissions reduction must be a focus for fleets in 2007.
Director Stewart Whyte said: ‘It is clear that as Britain moves towards a low-carbon economy, people who choose high-emission vehicles will be penalised, either through the tax system or through new pay-as-you-go pricing.
‘The government is determined to put into place a framework that promotes low-emission motoring. Fleets that embrace the concept through vehicle choice lists and mileage management will keep their budgets in check. Those that don’t will find operating costs and driver taxation levels soaring.’
Terry Bartlett, managing director of Inchcape Fleet Solutions, said the used market for less environmentally-friendly cars could melt away.
‘Vehicles subject to the highest rate of VED may prove less popular,’ he said.
‘Consequently residual values will fall and monthly rental rates increase.’
This week, the British Chambers of Commerce announced that 87% of businesses support the principle of road pricing as congestion worsens.