GREENEST CAR MAKERS: Eco-rating the top fleet brands
14 April 2009
Fleet's biggest sellers have put in a lot of effort to reduce emissions in the past 12 months, but some have had more success than others, as Paul Barker reports
Last year, BusinessCar launched a feature green-rating the 20 biggest car brands in the corporate market, which drew enough comment and controversy to repeat the exercise.
The first big change on 2008 was that Mini now sells enough cars into the fleet market to join our group of top 20 fleet sellers. The brand replaces Saab, which actually finished bottom of the ratings pile in our 2008 survey.
Each was scored out of five in 10 separate areas, and the total score out of 50 then doubled to get a percentage.
Some categories are simple, fact-based ones.
For example, the number of individual models on the price list - covering model, engine, trim and body style combinations - at either sub-121g/km and sub-111g/km, which are important to drivers and fleets respectively. The first CO2 figure is the 10% BIK boundary (with a 3% surcharge for diesels) and the second is the new 100% first year write-down capital allowance boundary, and points were awarded on the number of choices a fleet could have.
Each brand's lowest-emitting model was also rated against what rival brands are achieving.
BusinessCar has also utilised the research published by Clean Green Cars (www.cleangreencars.co.uk), which details the average 2008 emissions, weighted by volume, for each brand. We ranked the 20 against each other, and also gave a separate set of marks depending on how much emissions had improved or not against the 2007 average. We also looked at each brand's two biggest-selling fleet models, to see how their average CO2 in 2008 rated against the sector average.
To give the brands that don't specialise in smaller cars a chance, there are three discretionary sectors.
BusinessCar's expert editorial team put its years of experience to the test and rated all 20 manufacturers for their current effort in providing low-CO2 models, their future effort to allow for forthcoming developments within the next two years, and a final category looking at the breadth of offering.
So, if a fleet manager is looking for a solus deal, how well can each car maker cater for the variety of vehicles needed on a decent-sized fleet, while still meeting the needs of a green agenda?
It will be a big next 12 months for Audi as it looks to pass BMW as the greenest premium brand. The firm lags behind at the moment, but would appear to have plenty on the way to build on the good groundwork so far.
Biggest CO2 fall: 10.2% reduction on 2007
Still one of the leading eco brands thanks to the Efficient Dynamics tech filtering through to all cars, BMW is now gathering itself ready for the next technology push. It will be interesting to see how that develops and how quick it comes to market.
Strong for small cars up to lower-powered C4 models, but not a great deal to offer fleets needing larger models. CO2 falls have slowed as serious technological advances are still to come, though average is good because of smaller-car bias.
Another brand with plenty to keep fleets happy at the bottom half of the size range, but lacking in terms of larger options for a solus deal. Eco-drive on-board analysis for fleets could be interesting if developed well.
Lowest CO2 model: Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi 90 (98g/km)
Focus shows how it should be done, with a huge range of options under 121g/km, and also below 111g/km. The new 98g/km Fiesta is impressive, though it's a shame other Econetic models don't offer bigger benefits over standard versions.
The brand's low-CO2 lower medium hybrid cars are very impressive, but there's little else across the rest of the range. More evidence of action on the core fleet Accord and CR-V models would good, though there is a Jazz hybrid in the long-term plan.
There's a reasonable amount of effort here for what's currently a minority player in the core fleet market. But emissions reductions will have to penetrate further if the Korean company is serious about fleet penetration.
Deservedly last for greenness. Yes, Land Rover has a larger model range in terms of average vehicle size, but the firm has been glacial-shift slow in addressing the eco issue further since it launched a carbon offsetting scheme in 2006.
Currently off the pace with the green leaders, although near-10% fall in average emissions last year was good. New Mazda 3 will help further when it's launched next month, as it gives the brand a credible sub-121g/km fleet model.
Current eco-offering is out of its depth compared to premium rivals, but the signs are good with this summer's new E-class set to give BMW and Audi a bloody nose in the executive segment. Mercedes will need to follow it up with more though.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 2...