THE SUB-100 FLEET dream or reality?
There is now a plethora of cars with emissions figures of 100g/km or less, and the list grows longer seemingly every month as manufacturers find more ways of dipping cars below this magical mark.
But the reality of sub-100g/km is that it’s not just hair-shirt motoring, wheezing about in tiny little city cars unfit for a working life. Increasingly every model range has a car with double digit CO2 figures, and even larger models are seeing efficiency specials somewhere around this mark.
It might seem an arbitrary target, but if the vast majority of your cars are below the 100g/km figure, there are a number of financial benefits, as our Fleet Academy experts explain…
Fleet Academy: Tax Implications of a sub-100 g/km car by Peter Minchinton, Manager – Employment Solutions, RSM Tenon
From April 2012 there are a number of changes in the way low and zero emission cars are taxed.
For businesses the rules remain the same and you can claim 100% first year allowances on capital expenditure on a car provided that:
• the car is “unused and not second hand”, and is first registered on or after 17 April 2002;
• it is an electric car, or
• a car with CO2 emissions of not more than 110gm/km.
• the expenditure is incurred between 17 April 2002 and 31 March 2013.
For employees, apart from normal petrol and diesel cars over 100 gm/km, cars are in three categories.
Sub 100 g/km cars. Where the CO2 figures are between 1-75 gm/km, the BIK percentage is 5%. For 76-99 it is 10%. There is a 3% supplement for diesel cars.
Category E covers what were solely electric cars but has been extended to all zero emission cars. The BIK is 0% up to 2014/15 after which it becomes 9%.
Category A covers all the hybrid cars and those that were categories P, H, B, C and G. The BIK is 5%.
Alastair Kendrick, Taxation Director, MacIntyre Hudson LLP
Leaving aside the question from a duty of care point of view over whether a low emission car is “fit for purpose” there are significant tax breaks.
The position for electrics cars means that no taxable benefit arises on the vehicle with that pledge being from April 2010 for a five year period.
The news on other cars with low emissions (sub 100) is more fluid. At present, subject to the emission level being below 100 then the benefit is limited to 10% this year but the rates do move, meaning a car with 100g/km emissions in 2012/13 pays 11% and 12% in 2013/14. The rates for later years are to be announced and there is speculation there may be a significant increase.
So while there is a clear position over the taxation of electric cars, that is not the case in the medium to long-term with traditionally-powered vehicles, and those now going into a three-year contract do so with some uncertainty of the taxation in the back-end of the contract.
But having sounded a note of caution, the scale of the benefit does mean an employer can provide what is an attractive benefit without the taxation of this spoiling the offering.
THE LOWEST OF THE LOW: Our pick of the cleanest cars in their sectors…
City car: Volkswagen up! Bluemotion (95g/km)
The city car segment is petrol-dominated, with no shortage of sub-100g/km vehicles and a handful of battery electric models joining the market. However, for practicality and cost it’s the Volkswagen up! and its mechanically identical siblings from Škoda and SEAT that make the most sense for fleets.
In Bluemotion form, the up! emits 95g/km and is the most distinctive looking of the three. It falls into the second lowest insurance group and has a desirable badge which means strong residuals, while practicality will be boosted by the forthcoming five-door model.
• Citroën C-Zero (0g/km)
• Citroën C1 (99g/km)
• Fiat 500 TwinAir (95g/km)
• Fiat Panda TwinAir (95g/km)
• Ford Ka (99g/km)
• Hyundai i10 Blue (99g/km)
• Mitsubishi i-MiEV (0g/km)
• Peugeot iOn (0g/km)
• Peugeot 107 (99g/km)
• Renault Twizy (0g/km)
• SEAT Mii Ecomotive (97g/km)
• Škoda Citigo (97g/km)
• Smart fortwo cdi (86g/km)
• Toyota iQ (99g/km)
Supermini: Kia Rio EcoDynamics (85g/km)
The majority of sub-100g/km cars in the supermini segment are diesel-powered, but innovative petrol cars such as the two-cylinder TwinAir engine due for the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo MiTo, supercharged Micra DIG-S and forthcoming Yaris hybrid are options for particulate-concerned fleets.
But this is a core segment, and one where fleet-wide emissions can be brought down with the best in class. In this case, it’s the 85g/km new Kia Rio. Stylish and affordable, it’s also possible to buy the better-equipped Air version and 2 trim in sub-100g/km form.
• Alfa Romeo MTO 1.3 JTDm-2 85bhp (95g/km)
• Audi A1 1.6 TDI (99g/km)
• Chevrolet Aveo 1.3 VCDi (95-99g/km)
• Chrysler Ypsilon 1.3 M-Jet (99g/km)
• Chrysler Ypsilon 0.9 TwinAir SE auto (97g/km)
• Citroën C3 eHDI 70 Airdream EGS VTR+ (87g/km)
• Citroën DS3 1.6 HDi 90 Airdream (95-98g/km)
• Fiat Punto Evo TwinAir (98g/km)
• Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi (95g/km)
• Hyundai i20 Blue 1.4 CRDi (98g/km)
• Kia Rio 1 Air (94g/km) 2 CRDi (99g/km)
• MINI One D and Cooper D (99g/km)
• Nissan Micra DIG-S (95g/km)
• Peugeot 208 (from 87g/km)
• Renault Clio dCi 88 (94g/km)
• Renault ZOE (0g/km)
• SEAT Ibiza EcoMotive (92g/km)
• Skoda Fabia Greenline II (89g/km)
• Toyota Yaris HSD (TBC)
• Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi Ecoflex (94g/km)
• VW Polo Bluemotion (91g/km)
Mid-size hatchback: Renault Megane dCi 110 Stop and Start (90g/km)
The mid-size hatchback class is one of the most competitive on emissions, with most mainstream manufacturers offering a sub-100g/km model. Conventionally powered vehicles are all diesel powered, while petrol options include two Toyota hybrids and GM’s innovative range-extended electric cars.
But while the C-Segment includes very capable pure electric cars, this is a sector where long-range cruising is a desirable feature and volumes are high enough to make ultra-low CO2 models an advantage for reducing range-wide emissions. Renault’s forthcoming Megane will feature a revised dCi 110 diesel with start/stop at 90g/km, with the option to buy estate and coupe versions alongside the hatch.
• Chevrolet Volt (40g/km)
• Citroën C4 1.6 eHDI 110 EGS VTR+ (98g/km)
• Ford Focus Electric (0g/km)
• Honda Insight (96g/km)
• Honda Civic 1.6 diesel (TBC)
• Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive (97g/km)
• Kia Cee’d 1.6 CRDi (TBC)
• Nissan LEAF (0g/km)
• Renault Fluence Z.E. (0g/km)
• SEAT Leon Ecomotive (99g/km)
• Toyota Auris Hybrid (89/93g/km)
• Toyota Prius (89/92g/km)
• Toyota Prius Plug-in (49g/km)
• Vauxhall Astra ecoFlex (99g/km)
• Vauxhall Ampera (40g/km)
• VW Golf Bluemotion (99g/km)
Premium mid-size hatchback: Lexus CT 200h (98g/km)
Launched into a diesel-dominated market, Lexus’s compact hybrid has performed well, with over half of all sales last year going into this one model. Offering a power output that almost matches 2.0-litre diesel models, but with CO2 emissions lower than rivals’ entry-level 1.6-litre diesels, Lexus claims tax and fuel savings of over £2,500 in a three-year life cycle as one of its major selling points.
The first examples of the more aggressive-looking F-Sport version arrived in showrooms last month, featuring revised suspension settings and a sports styling pack inside and out to up its appeal.
• Audi A3 1.6 TDI 3dr (99g/km)
• BMW 116d EfficientDynamics (99g/km)
• Lexus CT 200h (98g/km)
• Volvo C30/S40/V50 DRIVe (99g/km)
Upper-medium car: Peugeot 508 (99-109g/km)
Downsized efficient diesel engines have brought a rapid decline in the average CO2 emissions of the D-Segment, with many of the mainstream manufacturers offering sub-120g/km models. It means long-distance cruisers don’t have to affect average emissions too heavily.
The lowest emission vehicles in the segment are the 109g/km Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion and Peugeot 508 e-HDI micro-hybrid. But it’s the Germanic new 508 which offers the broader spectrum of low-CO2 models, with the diesel-electric HYbrid4 powertrain returning 99g/km in the saloon due next year, and 109g/km in the rugged-looking RXH.
• Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi Eco (114g/km)
• Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi Blue Drive (113g/km)
• Peugeot 508 e-HDI (109g/km) RXH (109g/km) HYbrid4 (99g/km)
• Škoda Superb Greenline II (119g/km)
• Toyota Avensis WHICH ONE (119g/km)
• Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX (116g/km)
• Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion (109g/km)
Premium family car: BMW 320d ED (109g/km)
In the outgoing 3 Series, the 320d EfficientDynamics has helped make BMW almost the default option for the corporate sector, proving that matching the best-in-segment mainstream models didn’t have to mean sacrificing performance, luxury or an upmarket badge.
The new 320d EfficientDynamics raises the bar further, cutting emissions to 109g/km and offering the automatic gearbox 40% of buyers of the old model said they wanted, without an uplift in CO2. Low tax has made this an attainable model for plenty of fleets who had never considered BMW before, the carmaker has said.
• Audi A4 2.0 TDIe 136PS (112g/km)
• Citroën DS5 Hybrid4 (99g/km)
• Mercedes C220CDI BlueEfficiency (117g/km)
• Volvo S60 DRIVe (114g/km)
• Volvo V60 PHEV (49g/km)
Crossover/small SUV: Mazda CX-5 (119g/km)
Even the traditional “gas guzzler” SUV segment is no longer a drain on the average CO2 figure, with crossovers now offering car-like fuel economy in two-wheel drive form and Peugeot’s 3008 HYbrid4 offering the only four wheel drive option under 120g/km.
The most innovative here, though, is the forthcoming Mazda CX-5. Featuring the new Skyactiv Technology package, the body and chassis structure are engineered to be as light as possible, while the manual gearbox and 2.2-litre diesel engine return 119g/km and Euro 6 compliance without exhaust after-treatment – unique in this segment.
• BMW X1 sDrive20d EfficientDynamics (119g/km)
• Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi Start/Stop (119g/km)
• Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 (99-104g/km)
• Škoda Yeti Greenline (119g/km)
MPV: Toyota Prius+ (99g/km)
Sub-120g/km MPVs, with five and seven seats, are beginning to enter the market with Renault’s Grand Scenic leading the segment’s conventionally-powered models with the 105g/km dCi 110 diesel launching in the 2012 model.
But it’s Toyota which will push the segment forward the most this year with the Prius+. Part of the carmaker’s expanding hybrid family, it’s the first time a seven-seat car will be offered with emissions of under 100g/km, meaning MPV practicality no longer has to add thirsty vehicles to the fleet.
• Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCi (119g/km)
• Renault Grand Scenic dCi 110 (105g/km)
• SEAT Altea XL Ecomotive (119g/km)
• Vauxhall Meriva 1.3 CDTi Ecoflex (119g/km)
• Vauxhall Zafira Tourer ES 2.0 CDTi (119g/km)
CASE STUDIES: Going under the ton: fleets who have made the leap…
Around 340 home energy advisors working for energy firm E.ON are driving Ford Fiesta 1.6-litre TDCi ECOnetics, which have CO2 emissions of 95g/km.
Contract hired from Lex Autolease, the vehicles are expected to cover an average of 20,000 miles a year, including personal and business use. E.ON has recently changed its fleet car replacement period from three to four years.
Nina Hughes, Fleet Development Manager, Business Services, says: ‘We have had good feedback from the drivers of our Ford Fiestas, and the lower CO2 emissions of the Fiesta ECOnetic will help us deliver on our lower emissions policy as well as providing reduced fuel consumption.
‘As a company we have an overall fleet CO2 reduction target of 40 per cent by the year 2020, having achieved reductions exceeding 10 per cent a year, since 2008. We are expecting these Ford cars to further help in achieving our goal.’
An award-winning ethical travel company, Camps International has added a dozen SEAT Ecomotive models, with emissions of 99g/km or less, to its UK vehicle fleet.
Camps International offers a range of gap year volunteering experiences and school expeditions at locations across East Africa, South East Asia and Latin America, and the 11 Leon E Ecomotive models and one Ibiza E Ecomotive will be used by the Hampshire-based company’s UK sales team as they travel to schools and colleges liaising with young people and organisations interested in all manner of life-changing travel options.
Camps International says the SEATs have helped it to slash its fuel costs while members of the sales team have also made significant tax savings.
Is the 100g/km fleet a reality – or will it be soon? By Nigel Underdown, head Of Transport Advice, Energy Saving Trust
Of course it’s possible to achieve a fleet average of 100g/km of CO2 now. At the latest count there are 180 vehicles of less than 100g you can order today. Sprinkle in a few EVs at zero (okay, ignoring the upstream emissions) and that should leave some slack for the odd MPV and still allow you to achieve an average of 100g or less.
But is it a sensible ambition for the average fleet manager? No – at least, not as an aspiration in isolation from other key considerations.
Sure there is an impressive crop of 99g/km and lower cars which many income-squeezed drivers are increasingly drawn to. They’re finding that lower tax and cheaper private motoring don’t come with that many restrictions in terms of creature comforts and performance. And lower Employers NI should help the business too.
But steering drivers towards more efficient vehicles needs to take account of more than just the tax bill and that’s why measuring success simply on the quoted combined CO2 has its pitfalls.
Firstly, many of the advances in vehicle technology impact most in urban driving. That stop-start system which helped to score a magic 99g/km on the combined-cycle will do little for your national sales manager driving long distances on the motorways. Similarly, the small-engined hybrid cruising at 70mph will perform much less well than a bigger diesel.
Most of us know that in real life motoring the official mpg is very hard to achieve but research in the Netherlands has concluded that the variance between combined and real life mpg increases as vehicle CO2 decreases. Choosing a car that’s fit for purpose is more likely to do what it says on the label in terms of CO2 than a low carbon car that’s put to work on the wrong job.
It’s understandable that CO2 is front-of-mind in many fleet decisions but, tax issues apart, what really matters is how much fuel is burnt and how many miles are driven and at what overall running cost. Tackle driver behaviour in terms of driving style and unnecessary mileage and that will deliver much bigger fuel savings than focusing purely on achieving a 100g/km average.
But back to the question – will we see the 100g fleet? For certain types of fleet, I think it’s almost a reality now. And, yes I think we will and the reason I’m optimistic is because average new car CO2 emissions are heading inexorably downwards and will continue to do so as European regulations tighten.
But my advice would be don’t pursue the 100g/km target too single-mindedly. It’s horses-for-courses; electric vehicles for mainly urban use, hybrids for mixed operations while not ruling out the trusty low carbon diesel for your motorway cruisers.
How low can you go? The sub-50g/km fleet
Electromobility has introduced the possibility to cut CO2 emissions still further, with a handful of models now coming in under 50g/km. But is it possible to construct a fleet from the lowest emitting vehicles?
Traditionally a bread and butter segment for electric cars, the city car segment has near mechanically identical battery-electric offerings from Mitsubishi, Citroën and Peugeot. Renault’s futuristic Twizy two-seater will also launch this summer.
A production version of the battery-electric Renault ZOE will launch this summer, and is designed from the ground up to run on electricity. It offers a 100-mile range and 80bhp electric motor, while the carmaker’s battery leasing scheme is claimed to result in equivalent pricing to a conventional diesel car.
Nissan’s award-winning LEAF has proved electric cars don’t have to be small, and will be joined by the electric Renault Fluence and Ford Focus within 18 months. Those seeking long-distance cruising ability will get the option of the 40g/km Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt, which offer a 50-mile range and petrol engine to top up battery power. Toyota’s Plug-in Prius also falls just under the 50g/km target.
The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid offers a unique proposition in the upper medium segment, combining power and luxury with 49g/km CO2 emissions and 148mpg fuel economy thanks to its 30-mile electric range. But that technology doesn’t come cheap.