Company Car Today - Issue 54 - 26th June 2019

CCT greenwood on… the role of the company car Of course, company cars offer people the choice of a less-polluting car, or companies can insist you have a less- polluting car. And because company cars get on to the second-hand car market, they are hugely important in changing the fleet mix on the road. PAST HUMBER IMPERIAL I was very small, three or four, when we acquired our first ever family car. The Humber Imperial was enormous and it had little fold-down walnut tables in the rear and red leather seats. PRESENT PASHLEY PRINCESS I don’t have a car. My present vehicle is either a Pashley Princess bike I use in London or a Scania Omnidecker bus that runs the 100 route from home into Nottingham FUTURE PUBLIC TRANSPORT I’m not averse to having a car, but I have no interest beyond the fact that it is safe and reliable. I like using public transport and if I’m saying we need to use public transport more, it’s an easier position to do it from if I’m actually walking the walk. TOP PICKS LILIAN selects her stand-out cars to look at vehicles in a completely different way. In the future, will everyone always have a company car as the benefit, or could you look at buying someone a mobility as a service subscription instead? With that they could choose to use public transport where that was the best option, and maybe have a hire car or access to a pool car, or a car club car, which would encourage someone to use the right thing for the right journey. If you’ve got a company car, it’s obvious that for most journeys you are going to jump in the car that is parked outside your house, rather than having it sitting there while you go off and catch the bus or the train. Q Mobility as a service is the kind of thing that works really well in cities, but is there ever going to be a MaaS roll-out into suburban areas where the private car is the easiest way to travel? A We can see the potential but it has got a long way to go before we can see where is it potentially most useful. But frankly, there are a lot of people who are in cities, and just because we can’t do it everywhere doesn’t mean we can’t do it anywhere. We know people use the car for very many of those short journeys that could be done on foot, or on bicycle or public transport, so I don’t think just because there are places where people will need a car, that doesn’t mean that we should think we can’t do anything. There are lots of people who make lots of journeys where there are alternatives. And if you look at what’s happening, Government policy isn’t always moving in the same direction. While there is a lot of talk of wanting to have mobile shift, they don’t have any targets for mobile shift let alone be putting significant resources into making it happen. Q There have been problems with the reliability of motorway EV charging points, particularly with criticism of the company Ecotricity that runs the motorway charging stations. What is the next step for getting the charging network fit for purpose? A Government has got to ensure that it is put right, because people are not going to shift to electric vehicles if they have anxiety about the range and where they are going to charge it. Our recommendation is that the Department for Transport needs to work with DeFRA (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the HCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) to ensure that charging infrastructure meets strategic needs and prioritises air quality hot spots. Q Is the Government serious enough about moving people to EVs? A I think it’s pretty clear that the answer to that is no. Q What needs to be done? What would prove that there is serious desire to provoke change and be a goal that can be achieved without punishing people or harming business, but is still achievable? A There needs to be a more ambitious target, clarity about the milestones that need to be achieved, and then it’s about monitoring and checking, and making sure sufficient has been done. Then, if sufficient isn’t being done, it’s about acting to ensure that the target is going to be met. There’s absolutely no point having a target if you’re then not going to take the action to make sure you achieve it. But it requires real leadership and commitment and that’s what we need to see. Q And do you think the current financial incentives are fit for purpose? A I suspect people are a bit confused because there have probably been too many changes. If they’re not certain about what is happening with tax and other incentives then there is a tendency for people to do nothing and wait and see what happens. That probably means there are people driving the dirtiest, most polluting cars who haven’t moved to a less polluting one. If you buy a new car, it’s probably going to be much less polluting, but you might not do anything if you don’t know what’s happening. You don’t want to buy a new car and find you’re clobbered with an increase in tax. That’s one of the issues, the Government has got to be very clear on what we want you to do and that we’re not suddenly going to make a big change in direction. Because the last thing we want is for people to just do nothing. I think it’s pretty clear that there is a need for that clarity; I can’t tell you if Government is going to react to what is a very obvious need. But in the context of what we are talking about, there is a heightened awareness of the need to tackle poor air quality, and there is a heightened awareness of the need to tackle carbon emissions if we are serious about protecting the future of our planet. It’s a good time for Government to be thinking about these issues and re-emphasising where it is going. INTERVIEW COMPANY CAR TODAY.CO.UK 21