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LEX AUTOLEASE RESEARCH: Doffing a cap to falling caps

Date: 06 January 2014   |   Author:

Emissions limits on business car fleets are continuing to fall, and that's not all the exclusive BusinessCar research conducted with Lex Autolease reveals about fleets' green plans, reports Paul Barker

There are more fleets than ever installing CO2 caps, and although these are falling, there are further reductions to come, according to the results of research carried out by BusinessCar and the UK's biggest leasing firm, Lex Autolease.

Retracing some of the ground first covered in late 2011 by the same parties, the results of a survey of fleet operators and drivers found that 58.1% of respondents' fleets now have a CO2 restriction, compared with the 40.6% confirming that was the case in 2011.

The biggest change, though, appears to be in communication, with just 1.6% of respondents not aware of whether their fleet has a cap, compared with 22.9% two years ago.

But the level of the cap is also important because, in 2011, 43.3% of those with a limit had it set at 160g/km.

Tax changes and increased fuel costs have had an impact over the past 24 months, and we're now looking at 44% of respondents with a CO2 limit on their policies being at 130g/km or below, with 20.9% at 120g/km or below, the latter compared with 4.5% in 2011.

"It's fair to use the word 'leapt' in terms of the number of 120g/km policies, and it's because of taxation forcing people's hand," explains Lex Autolease's principle consultant Chris Chandler. "There is a good choice of good-quality vehicles - you're not driving a slow dull car and you can choose low CO2 and have a nice enjoyable vehicle."

Chandler says the fact that 47% of Lex Autolease's fleet is now under 120g/km illustrates how far the market has come, and commends manufacturers for their efforts.

"I don't think you can say anything other than a very positive pat on the back for good-quality vehicles down to that level," he says.

The surprise statistic was that there has been little change in the number of fleets adopting a sub-100g/km fleet policy. It's still very much a minority, with just 2.3% currently at that level, despite 10.7% of Lex's fleet being sub-100g/km cars and the choice rapidly improving from all manufacturers.

"I wonder whether some customers would have multi-brand policies, maybe sub-100g/km for essential-user fleets and sub-120g/km for user-choosers," speculates Chandler. "But it's very positive and there doesn't seem to be any let-up in desire to introduce CO2 limits."

That point is reinforced by the 8.0% of fleet respondents that don't have a CO2 cap but are expecting one in the next 12 months, while 44% didn't know whether there would be one, and 48% were certain no emissions limit would be imposed on their list in the next year.