Toyota and Lexus Fleet Services is calling on fleets to switch from diesel to petrol electric hybrids, following the announcement that the European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution.
Pointing to the UK’s estimated annual toll of 5,000 premature deaths linked to combustion exhaust*, the manufacturer stresses that petrol hybrid emissions contain no particulates, virtually no nitrogen oxides(NOx) and much reduced levels of CO2.
At the same time, petrol hybrids can save drivers and businesses thousands of pounds per vehicle on tax, fuel and whole life costs.
“Poor air quality is an issue for all of us,” said Neil Broad, general manager at Toyota and Lexus Fleet Services. “Although they have some benefits, diesel-engine vehicles are a major source of harmful pollution – despite using catalytic converters and filters, which are expensive to buy and service.
"The EU is saying in particular that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are ‘excessive’ in many British cities.
“With a petrol full hybrid, particulate emissions are entirely eliminated and NOx levels are on average a tenth of the diesel limit set by the forthcoming Euro 6 legislation. Increasingly stringent penalties and further measures such as speed limits on motorways look likely to be introduced by the government, so it will be even more difficult and costly for diesel vehicles to comply in the future.”
Continuing the economic argument, Broad added: “The petrol hybrid’s low fuel consumption is an obvious source of cost savings but business users should also consider the costs of maintenance over the vehicle’s lifetime.
"A petrol hybrid has no starter motor, drive belts, alternator or clutch to service or replace, and its brake pads last longer thanks to regenerative braking. Petrol full hybrid drivers enjoy a lower personal tax (benefit in kind) liability than diesel drivers, while the employer gains from a company tax advantage and lower Class 1 National Insurance contributions.”
Total savings depend on the model chosen and on factors such as mileage and purchase method, but as an illustration, Toyota and Lexus Fleet Services saif that a Lexus CT 200h S will save businesses £4,000 in a typical three-year 60,000 mile cycle compared to a competitor’s diesel equivalent. At the same time, the driver will save £2,000 in BIK personal tax.
Broad said: “There is a big focus these days on the health and financial effects of smoking, and it’s no different with the vehicles you drive.
"The UK needs to improve its air quality and the government is considering radical solutions to the problem.
"Our message is that you don’t need to be radical; instead you can quit smoking for good by choosing petrol hybrid over diesel.
"The right choice is a vehicle that minimises damage to lives, health and the environment. Thankfully, in the case of petrol hybrids, that choice also makes complete economic sense.”
*Environmental Science Technology – Public Health Impacts of Combustion Emissions in the United Kingdom 12/03/12; COMEAP – Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution.