A Conservative majority forming the new Government has secured some stability for the UK’s fleet industry, but there are concerns about how air quality targets will be met, according to experts.

ACFO chairman John Pryor said stability is essential in order for key fleet decision-makers to plan their strategies, so they are not forced to make changes in response to “kneejerk reactions from legislators”.

The Conservatives set out the most details related to automotive issues in its manifesto ahead of the election compared with other major parties. Pledges include a £19bn investment in the UK road network, £500m investment over the next five years to increase the adoption of zero-emission cars and vans, and £100m to research driverless cars.

There is also continuity with the re-appointment of Patrick McLoughlin as secretary of state for transport.
However, in his first post-election speech, chancellor George Osborne revealed plans to give more powers to cities with an elected mayor to introduce their own measures to tackle air pollution.

This could mean more congestion charge zones in cities across the UK and follows on from a ruling from the Supreme Court, the final appeal court in UK law, that the country must submit plans to improve air quality by the end of the year, with 43 cities, towns and zones estimated to miss air quality targets.

Pryor said: “The coalition Government set out on an encouraging road, through the tax regime, for low and ultra low-emission vehicles, and fleets have reacted by introducing these vehicles.

“Benefit-in-kind tax rates are known for the next five years, but we are aware that the new Government must take action in respect of air quality and respond to the recent Supreme Court ruling.”

Pryor said that whatever developments take place, ACFO hopes any changes will be flagged up with reasonable warning to enable fleets to implement any measures necessary in a planned manner.

Rupert Pontin, Glass’s head of valuations, said: “The automotive market was concerned at the prospect of a hung parliament and there was a bit of a sigh of relief at a majority result because it means there is less uncertainty about the political future.”

Pontin said positives include continued investment in automotive infrastructure, driverless cars and low-CO2 vehicle incentives. However, there is also a worry about the knock-on effect to the image of diesel if more cities look to introduce measures such as congestion charge zones to tackle air quality targets.