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Latest rise in CO2 shows flaws in government policy

Rises in average CO2 among UK and European new car emissions have also been seen on Fleet Alliance’s vehicle fleet, leading the firm to warn about the impacts of confused government policies.

Fleets need a balanced view on diesel, petrol and alternative fuels, says Fleet Alliance

Fleet Alliance MD Martin Brown said rising CO2 is a direct result of misguided Government policy and an unjustified anti-diesel stance 

New analysis by the leasing and fleet management specialist reveals that average CO2 emissions across its 28,000 vehicle fleet increased from 115g/km in 2017 to 125g/km in 2018. The rise of almost 9% marks the first-ever increase in average carbon dioxide levels on the Fleet Alliance fleet and follows figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at the start of the year that showed carbon tailpipe emissions for UK new car registrations in 2018 rose for a second successive year, by 2.9% to 124.5g/km, despite an improvement in vehicle efficiency, due to the shift to petrol; the result of anti-diesel policies.

Meanwhile data from Jato Dynamics found that average CO2 emissions across 23 countries across Europe hit a four-year high of 120.5g/km in 2018, as car buyers switched wholesale from diesel to petrol following changes in tax and pollution laws.

At Fleet Alliance the increase in CO2 emissions in 2018 was most pronounced amongst personal contract hire (PCH) customers whose average CO2 emissions went up from 127g/km in 2017 to 138g/km in 2018, a rise of 8.66%. This was the result of a year-on-year increase in orders of higher CO2-emitting petrol cars by PCH customers of around 13%, while orders of diesels have declined by the same amount.

In 2017, diesel cars accounted for 60.8% of all orders by PCH customers, compared to just 47.5% in 2018. However, at the same time, orders of petrol cars have soared from 37.9% of all PCH sales in 2017 to 50.7% in 2018.

The remainder of the PCH fleet in 2018 was made up of petrol electric hybrids (1.02%), plug in petrol electric hybrids (0.51%) and electric vehicles (0.15%).

It follows comments from ACFO and other organisations that current uncertainty of the cost to fleets/drivers from the switch to WLTP as well as a lack of information for company car tax rates after 2021 are pushing drivers to opt out and take cash allowances, potentially for much higher-emitting cars.

Whilst less pronounced, the trend of rising CO2 emission levels was repeated amongst business contract hire (BCH) customers, with average emissions rising from 114g/km in 2017 to 117g/km in 2018.

Sales of diesel cars to BCH customers continued to decline, accounting for 66.6% of orders in 2018, compared to 73.35% in 2017. At the same time, orders of petrol cars increased from 16.96% to 21.65% as fleets continued to switch away from diesel power.

As a consequence, orders for alternative fuel vehicles also increased year-on-year. Plug in electric hybrids now account for 7.81% of the BCH fleet while petrol electric hybrids account for 3.59% and pure electric vehicles just 0.27%.

Fleet Alliance managing director, Martin Brown said the figures showed there was now a need for government to reconsider its advice on diesel vehicles, as the current thinking had only served to spread confusion in the market, depress sales of diesel cars and increase carbon dioxide levels for only the second time in more than 20 years.

“What we are seeing first hand is a direct result of misguided Government policy and an anti-diesel stance which is completely unjustified,” said Brown.

“It is almost unthinkable that we should see CO2 emissions increase on a national level after all the hard work undertaken in bringing them down over the last 20 years.

“But the figures from our own fleet back up the findings by the SMMT and JATO – namely that CO2 levels are on the rise, and it’s largely attributable to the Government’s punitive anti-diesel stance and a lack of joined up thinking on national transport policy,” he finished.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.