The sharpest declines in company car ownership were recorded in the south east of England and Greater London. There was some growth in ownership in the north east and Wales, but company car mileage decreased everywhere, especially in London, the south east and east.
Many fleet car drivers are now taking the train instead.
“There is clear evidence of a switch from company cars to rail for commuting into London, and also some evidence of a switch in business travel from company cars to rail,” says the report.
Rail mileage for business purposes “has nearly tripled”.
While the RAC report authors stop short of making a direct causal link, they point to Government policy and taxation as playing its part: an 80% drop was recorded in drivers receiving both company car and free fuel for private use.
“The figures show us that the company car tax regime is successfully taxing some people out of private use,” said John Lewis, BVRLA chief executive.
“Increasing numbers of people are deciding not to take a perk car or are not claiming free fuel from their employer for personal use.”
It may not be all about sticks and no carrots, however.
Professor Phil Goodwin, of the University of the West of England, said that “there are places where declines in car use started earlier, typically large cities, but also in smaller ones with policies deliberately intended to improve public transport, walking or cycling.”
Goodwin also suggested that factors such as mobile internet, for working on the move, and the growth in other online services and communication tools, have contributed towards a cultural shift away from taking the wheel of a car.
“Workplace trends are changing,” agreed Lewis. “More people are working from home and more are relying on technology instead of face-to-face communication.
“Employers are taking a more sustainable approach to work-related travel, putting more effort into ensuring that journeys are made using the appropriate form of transport, whether that is a company car, rental car, pool car, bus or train.”
The On the Move report only uses data to 2007, to mitigate against the effects of the recession, though the 2011 NTS shows a continued downward trend in both the number of car trips taken and annual mileage.
Lewis concluded: “Overall car use is only really declining among the young and in Greater London.
“This is largely due to issues such as congestion, lack of parking and the cost of motoring, particularly insurance. All these factors bode well for the continued growth in demand for pay-as-you-go mobility solutions.”