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Minister backs rental cars on green and cost grounds

Date: 13 December 2011   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

The Government is seeking to promote rental as an eco-friendly alternative business transport, with a Government minister declaring that vehicle rental can be "cheaper, more efficient and less carbon intensive" than company cars.

In a statement made to the BVRLA, transport minister Norman Baker said: "For too long the rented car has seemed like a poor relation to its private counterpart."

His comments come following a report commissioned by the BVRLA entitled Vehicle Rental: Environmental and Sustainability Implications. It sought to raise the profile of rental, currently seen in some business circles as secondary to other methods of cutting the cost and environmental impact of business travel, such as home working, better use of technology or car sharing.

"This report from the vehicle rental industry shows that, in environmental terms, rental cars often represent the cheaper, more efficient and less carbon-intensive option," said Baker.

He continued to say that the rental sector is also more likely to promote alternative fuel vehicles: "What's more, they have real potential to encourage the take-up of new low-carbon vehicle technologies. The Government wants people to travel in more sustainable ways, choosing the low-carbon alternatives that suit them best - whether that means working from home, working more flexibly or sharing a car."

Compiled by Dr Sally Cairns of the Transport Research Laboratory, the report examines rental as a cheaper and more eco-friendly alternative to full-time ownership. It found that rental vehicles are relatively new and well maintained, spend more time on the road and less time in parking spaces. It also highlighted the fact that average CO2 of rental fleets in 2010 were 12% lower than the average British car fleet.

Speaking at the BVRLA conference in early December, Dr Cairns said: "Rental has been surprisingly overlooked in public policy. There's no mention of it in the 2011 local transport white paper and there are many unanswered questions."

Regarding rental's relationship with privately owned and company vehicles, Baker concluded: "As this report demonstrates, it's high time renting a car was added to that menu of options."

Despite the positive comments, speakers at the conference admitted that high insurance premiums in the rental industry were problematic, and the BVRLA said that it is working with the insurance industry in an attempt to stabilise this. Chief executive John Lewis said: "The Association of British Insurer's numbers are pretty horrible. We've got to accept some of those costs - things like repairs are now more expensive than they used to be. We don't know about a timeline for achieving results in this area."