The new scheme is open to all UK employees and replaces the previous company car fleet, which comprised some 450 cars for directors, senior managers and technical staff.

So far uptake has been "very pleasing", says senior benefits advisor Vicky Stewart, with BMW being the most popular manufacturer, accounting for 18% of orders, followed by Ford with 15%, SEAT with 12% each and Citroen 10%.

Bombardier, which has operations in more than 60 countries, is expecting uptake by UK employees of between 5-15%, as this is in line with the experience of the scheme consultant, leading accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Bombardier had several objectives in mind with the new scheme, which is available through its "Preference" flexible benefits package, primarily environmental, as well as providing tax savings and wider choice for all employees.

'We wanted the new scheme to meet to our environmental objectives,' said Vicky Stewart. 'When we build trains we make sure we are environmentally considerate, and we wanted to take the same approach with our car scheme.

'With that in mind, we set an upper limit of 120g/km of CO2 for all our cars, but as there is an ever-growing choice of cars below that level, including executive models from Audi and BMW, we do not see it being a problem.'

Those employees who previously received company cars now receive a cash allowance and can decide how much of that allowance they want to sacrifice for a car, added Ms Stewart.

'Feedback so far has been very positive, with many employees saying that the scheme has allowed them to buy new cars that they would not have been able to afford otherwise,' she said.

'We have had over 75 orders to date and expect this to increase as more cars come off their leases, which were typically for three or four years,' she added.