Fast-fitter Kwik Fit has warned the introduction of the new WLTP emissions testing regime could result in company car drivers leasing vehicles with smaller wheels and tyres than at present in order to reduce their tax bills.

The size of wheels and tyres are influential in CO2 emissions and car makers have been fitting larger wheels in order to make vehicles look more appealing, however, the current testing regime does not take wheel size into account.

The new version, however, will take into account all additional options, meaning there could be a large variation in CO2 emissions – and therefore Benefit-in-Kind taxes – between versions of the same model depending on which options boxes are ticked.

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Kwik Fit added this could also lead fleets shying away from taking on SUVs in the future, as they are typically larger and heavier than hatchbacks or saloons, thus impacting on CO2 emissions.

To combat the incoming change in tax regime, car makers have started to remove re-engineer vehicles to comply while some have also axed various configurations from model line-ups, impacting on the production of vehicles.

“If vehicle CO2 figures have not been influential in the compilation of company car policies to date they are now critical with the arrival of WLTP,” said Andy Fern, Kwik Fit’s fleet sales director. “In the short-term it has essentially created increased uncertainty for the fleet market, at a time when there’s already confusion with regards to the long-term future of diesel vehicles and the migration towards hybrid and electric models.”

He added: “Wheel rim size and width of a tyre have a direct correlation on a vehicle’s rolling resistance and therefore CO2 emissions. As a result, we may see vehicle manufacturers end the trend for larger wheels, or company car drivers may think twice about ticking the larger rim size option when specifying a vehicle as it will ultimately hit them in the pocket.”