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Mike Waters' blog: 27 August 2013 - Practicality or principle?

Date: 27 August 2013

Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at leasing and fleet management company Arval

There is no doubt the vehicles we drive are getting greener. The question is what's driving this change? There is an argument to

say we are now more aware of our impact on the environment, more concerned about the damage that we can do, and better educated to live in a more sustainable way.

But while this is the case for some, the evidence shows that for the vast majority, it is practicality that is driving this change rather than an unwavering commitment to the planet's future. This practicality seems to be driven from two areas.

First is the Government. Their vehicle taxation policy, which is directly linked to the environment, is undoubtedly having an impact.

This year's Corporate Vehicle Observatory research from Arval clearly shows that tax policy is generating an improvement in environmental performance.

Increasing costs is a sure-fire way of influencing behaviour. Due to current tax policy, the most efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles are also the cheapest to run, so it is no surprise they are also becoming the most popular for businesses and consumers alike.

The second influence is coming from manufacturers as their vehicles become cleaner and greener. People will buy what's available and the manufacturers, to their credit, have made great strides in recent years.

The latest figures from the SMMT show that in the year 2000, average new car CO2 emissions were 181g/km.

During the first half of 2013 this figure had fallen dramatically to 129g/km. Irrespective of the driving force behind this reduction, it is clearly something we can all support and benefit from financially.

There are some people for whom the environment is a key factor because they genuinely care. For these people, there are plenty of options available making it easy for them to make a sustainable vehicle choice.

For the rest of us, a combination of tax pressures and available models mean we are reducing our environmental impact, even if it's not our primary aim.