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Fleet giants warn of record number of opt-out drivers

Members of the Michelin Fleet Panel – which includes representatives from some of the UK’s biggest leasing, fleet management and rental companies – are calling for clarity from the Government on company car tax changes as they warn that the delay risks driving motorists out of company car schemes altogether.

Panel members say that drivers who’ve extended contracts would have almost certainly replaced their cars with more eco-friendly ones if they’d had tax clarity

The panel has requested Transport Select Committee member and MP for Stoke-On-Trent South, Jack Brereton seek clarity on the changes ahead of the switch to WLTP in April 2020,

The issue is estimated to be delaying as many as 250,000 new company car orders and became the focal point of discussions when 14 panel members, collectively responsible for nearly 1.2 million cars on UK roads, met with Brereton in the Houses of Parliament.

Several members admitted having the largest number of lease vehicles ever in contract extension. They warned that drivers extending contracts would almost certainly have replaced their cars with more environmentally efficient vehicles by now had there been clarity on taxation beyond April 2020.

Peter Wood, Michelin key account manager and chair of the Michelin Fleet Panel, told Brereton: “The company car is a very good mechanism for driving down CO2 emissions. Panel members want to support this, but there is a risk we end up in a situation where company car drivers take the cash option and arrange their own personal vehicle instead. This could have a huge knock-on effect for the treasury in lost company car tax revenue.”

Clive Buhagiar, head of operational services at Alphabet, added: “The biggest area of growth right now is in personal leasing. When people come out of the company car taxation system, there’s no longer that natural incentive to go for low-CO2 vehicles; it’s having a really big impact which will also impact the availability of low CO2 cars in the used market.”

The Michelin Fleet panel also met with Richard Burden MP, former Shadow Minister (Transport), to discuss the impact of Brexit on the automotive sector in the UK.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.