Is the 100g/km fleet a reality – or will it be soon? By Nigel Underdown, head Of Transport Advice, Energy Saving Trust
But is it a sensible ambition for the average fleet manager? No – at least, not as an aspiration in isolation from other key considerations.
Sure there is an impressive crop of 99g/km and lower cars which many income-squeezed drivers are increasingly drawn to. They’re finding that lower tax and cheaper private motoring don’t come with that many restrictions in terms of creature comforts and performance. And lower Employers NI should help the business too.
But steering drivers towards more efficient vehicles needs to take account of more than just the tax bill and that’s why measuring success simply on the quoted combined CO2 has its pitfalls.
Firstly, many of the advances in vehicle technology impact most in urban driving. That stop-start system which helped to score a magic 99g/km on the combined-cycle will do little for your national sales manager driving long distances on the motorways. Similarly, the small-engined hybrid cruising at 70mph will perform much less well than a bigger diesel.
Most of us know that in real life motoring the official mpg is very hard to achieve but research in the Netherlands has concluded that the variance between combined and real life mpg increases as vehicle CO2 decreases. Choosing a car that’s fit for purpose is more likely to do what it says on the label in terms of CO2 than a low carbon car that’s put to work on the wrong job.
It’s understandable that CO2 is front-of-mind in many fleet decisions but, tax issues apart, what really matters is how much fuel is burnt and how many miles are driven and at what overall running cost. Tackle driver behaviour in terms of driving style and unnecessary mileage and that will deliver much bigger fuel savings than focusing purely on achieving a 100g/km average.
But back to the question – will we see the 100g fleet? For certain types of fleet, I think it’s almost a reality now. And, yes I think we will and the reason I’m optimistic is because average new car CO2 emissions are heading inexorably downwards and will continue to do so as European regulations tighten.
But my advice would be don’t pursue the 100g/km target too single-mindedly. It’s horses-for-courses; electric vehicles for mainly urban use, hybrids for mixed operations while not ruling out the trusty low carbon diesel for your motorway cruisers.