Am I the only person increasingly confused by the conflicting views bandied about on reducing the environmental impact of our company cars?
Let’s start with fuel. At a time when the Government has decided to increase its target for biofuel use to 5% of transport fuels, the result is farmers are growing crops to use as biofuel rather than food to eat, so we will all shortly go hungry because there will be less food to eat, and so it will be even more expensive to buy – that’s the food and the fuel by the way.
Then, having been encouraged to choose diesel in order to reduce CO2 for the past 10 years or so, I read that small petrol cars are the way to go because that’s what the retail second-hand market demands, and our residual values on everything else will fall out of bed if we don’t watch out.
In 2011 diesel car sales overtook petrol for the first time with the greatest number of first registrations, at just over 50%, and more than one million were registered for the first time in 2012. But 60% of new registrations were company cars and with fleets’ current preference for diesel, maybe we are accounting for that overall diesel increase.
I’m afraid a Citroën C1 is fine for my niece’s daily commute to her accountancy firm but no good for the amount of kit my company car drivers need. Small petrol engine cars are not for us, so it’ll be our loss when the current crop of diesels become unsaleable.
In the meantime, while the Government continues to plug low emissions, unaccountably the latest Budget ruling means that if I lease rather than buy, my leasing supplier now won’t be able to claim 100% first year allowances on the lowest emissions vehicles and so the monthly rental will rise by £15 a month or more, increasing overall costs. This could lead drivers to choose cars with higher CO2. So what’s that all about?
Perhaps proving Volvo environmental consultant Don Potts right – if you are up to date with your Fleet Academy reading – I’m afraid the main business driver for me is still cost, rather than air quality, because of the range of vehicles currently on offer. Indeed many years ago I recall it was Don who claimed that most of the world’s CO2 was generated by volcanoes and I remember thinking then that we’d be hard pushed to make any significant reduction by way of transport against that kind of enormity. Nonetheless, if Mayor Boris Johnson wants to see diesel and petrol banned from London by 2020, there are going to need to be some pretty significant changes in UK policy.
I only hope the messages become clearer, because we have a business to run, and it’s my job to keep company car costs down. Air quality is of concern, and the current crop of regular fuels will become scarcer – or at least more difficult and thus more expensive – to maintain. I want to see agreement on the optimum fuel, and a guaranteed infrastructure to support it. Then show me a cost-effective, load-lugging suitably fuelled car or van and I’ll order it.