Fleet News

Whole life costs are critical basis for company car selection, experts tell ACFO seminar

Vehicle whole life costs should be the critical basis on which businesses select which company cars to operate, yet evidence suggests as few as one-in-five organisations use that strategy.

Fleet experts Dan Rees, senior manager, Deloitte Car Consulting, and Andrew Cronin, key solutions manager, GE Capital UK, each highlighted that whole life costs were the key criteria in compiling company car choice lists at an ACFO fleet briefing held in association with Motorexpo.

Vehicle whole life costs were critical, said Mr Rees at the Fleet Management in a Changing World seminar held in Canary Wharf, because they highlighted that cars which may cost the same in terms of list price or monthly lease rental actually did not in terms of cost per mile to operate.

He said: “The cost difference can build up over the lifecycle of a car. The principle of basing choice lists on whole life costs can help both employers and employees. For employers it can save money, and for employees, even if the whole life cost figures on two models are identical a different CO2 emissions figure will influence the level of benefit-in-kind tax due.”

Cronin said: “Basing company car policies on whole life costs means naturally excluding the worse performing cars so organisations are naturally managing their risk.”

However, he highlighted that GE’s Company Car Trends report that has tracked fleet industry developments for almost a decade via quarterly research among fleet decision-makers, revealed that many organisations ignored whole life costs in drawing up vehicle choice lists.

Asked to highlight criteria used in setting company car choice lists, only 20% of respondents used whole life costs in 2013 compared with 29% three years ago. That compared with 70% who said they used a CO2 emissions limit, while others factors influencing choice list compilation included fitness for purpose, vehicle lease rates and safety features.

Cronin added: “Whole life costs generally favour low CO2 emissions cars so support corporate carbon reducing policies and reward drivers in terms of the benefit-in-kind charge.

“Presently 40-45% of our customers use whole life costs. If you don’t use this process then it is worth considering.”

However, there is sometime confusion as to what data to include when using whole life costs to compare the fleet operational viability of individual cars.

One figure that is frequently not included is employers’ Class 1A National Insurance contributions paid on the value of benefits-in-kind such as company cars.

Cronin said: “Class 1A National Insurance is a key part of fleet costs, but not often considered. If the lease rate of two cars is £10 a month difference then the car with the higher cost will not be considered and the same criteria should apply to Class 1A National Insurance.”

Rees added that “tax was a fundamental part of whole life costs” and suggested that fleet decision-makers also took into account the impact of capital allowances and VAT recoverability.

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Login to comment


  • Andrew Wright - 19/06/2013 15:22

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. (The more things change, the more they stay the same). I read this (or something exactly similar) in the late 90s. How frustrating is that!

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee