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BVRLA urges Government to reform BIK tax rates

Date: 07 June 2017   |   Author: Debbie Wood

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has published a new manifesto that outlines its key priorities for the incoming Government ahead of the General Election on 8 June.

Titled A Fleet and Motability Services Manifesto, the plan covers emissions, air quality, road safety, Brexit and connected cars, outlining the role the fleet and mobility sector can play to help drive down costs and make road transport more efficient for the future.

Among the key points raised in the plan include a push for Government to modify the current regulations governing refunds on VED, which came into effect in April this year and, as we previously reported, is expected to increase the first-year VED bill for rental companies by 400%.

There's also calls to introduce further guidance on the recently published Clean Air Zone Framework and a reform of the current BIK ratings for company cars with 'greater granularity' needed on low-CO2 vehicles to help incentivise uptake. A new tax category for electric vehicles based on range was also suggested, which is believed will create a more consistent approach and continue to incentivise members of the association to purchase electric cars and vans.

The current three-tiered approach for the plug-in car grant was suggested as a possible guide for new rates on EV range, where a car emitting under 50g/km and can travel at least 70 miles is rewarded the maximum grant of up to £4,500, and those plug-in vehicles emitting between 50-75g/km of CO2 that can travel at least 20 miles receive only £2,500.

Commenting on the launch of the manifesto, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney, said: "It is essential that the new Government understands the vital role our members' huge purchasing power can play in delivering safer, sustainable and more cost-efficient road transport. Policymakers face a real challenge, not just in terms of Brexit, but also in how the UK embraces the move towards data-driven mobility services. We believe this manifesto will ensure the big issues for our industry aren't forgotten about - regardless of the make-up of the Government after 8 June."

Calls to introduce a flexible and targeted diesel scrappage scheme, which provides assistance for companies looking to replace or retrofit older, more polluting commercial vehicles, was also included in the manifesto and continued further that the scheme "should also incentivise private car owners to swap their existing car for a pure-electric alternative, or give up their vehicles to use more sustainable modes of transport, such as car rental and car clubs".

The BVRLA also welcomed the Government's adoption of a minimum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for all of its own fleet purchases and proposed a further step of ensuring Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) becomes a mandatory requirement for all vehicles in the Government fleet.

Keaney believes that the latter should be made mandatory for all fleet vehicles, further supported by Thatcham Research, which has estimated that if a £500 incentive was offered to those drivers choosing to purchase a car with AEB fitted, this could reduce road casualties by 136,000 over the next 10 years.

"Fleets looking to reduce their road safety risk should adopt Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as these safety systems can help to avoid or reduce the severity of an accident," Keaney has claimed. "Autonomous Emergency Braking, for example, can reduce fleet insurance claims by 25%, and we believe the Government should make AEB a mandatory requirement for all its new vehicles."

Data security was also covered in point six of the report, which requested the Government set up a Mobility Data Hub to provide a neutral voice that will help ensure that fleet operators, OEMs and third-party suppliers share data in an open, secure and fair way.

It also called on Government to support the development of a Euro NCAP-style rating system for cyber security which will enable fleets to make educated buying decisions and ensure manufacturers state how compliant a vehicle in their range is. The BVRLA stated that current legislation will need to be revised to reflect new technology and the association is hoping that a change like this will limit the advantage manufacturers will gain over leasing companies by allowing all parties access to the data.

The BVRLA has over 900 members whose combined purchasing power is responsible for around a million new vehicle sales every year that contributes over £25 billion to the UK economy. The association will be sending copies of its manifesto to each of the three major political parties and hopes that the leasing and rental industry will be seen as a key enabler and supported by the new Government to help drive change in the transport sector moving forwards.