Meet the team – Steve Williams

Name: Steve Williams.

Job Title: Head of IT and development.

Explain your role in 10 words: Leading the development of Fleet Service GB’s in house IT systems.

What’s the best aspect of your job? Working with the business and its customers to deliver new IT solutions.

What’s the worst aspect of your job? Receiving a bug report for a change that has just gone live.

How long have you worked at Fleet Service GB? 5 years.

What was your first paid job? Working in the local newsagent.

What’s your favourite car? Nissan GTR.

What one thing would you like to achieve before you retire? Have an area of the Fleet Service GB system that is considered truly finished with no nice-to-haves left to implement.

Outside of Fleet Service GB, what would your dream job be? Working for SpaceX.

Who in the world would you most like to meet? Elon Musk.

What is your favourite way to spend a day outside of work? Spending time with my wife and my daughter, probably at the zoo.

If you won the lottery how would you spend the cash? Aside from the usual house, car, holiday mix I’d throw a massive party for all my friends and family.

Not a lot of people know that… I used to write novels as a hobby.

Employee communication allied to the use of technology is at the heart of driver management best practice, says Fleet Service GB

Poor employee communication equals poor policy equals poor outcomes is the verdict of Fleet Service Great Britain (Fleet Service GB) executive chairman Geoffrey Bray (pictured).

It’s a view shared by the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD), which says in a paper published earlier this year: “Employee communication is an essential part of business.

“Effective internal communication is important for developing trust within an organisation and is shown to have significant impact on employee engagement, organisational culture and, ultimately, productivity.”

Yet CIPD research suggests that many employees feel they receive limited or very little information.

Managing the vehicle, driver and journey is the raison d’etre of Fleet Service GB through its suite of industry-leading Achieve-branded solutions: Maintenance Management, Crash Management, Driver Management, Management Services, Fleet Manager and Fleet Service Partnership.

Achieve Driver Management is at the core of the technology-based menu of programmes as it pro-actively measures individual driver performance awarding points based on a raft of measures including motoring offences and number and type of crashes.

Simultaneously, drivers can improve their record through a range of best practice parameters including completing online ‘how to’ e-learning programmes

The Achieve Driver Management dashboard identifies which employees have authority to drive, driver-influenced vehicle costs – including maintenance bills and tyre usage – and a company’s best and worst drivers using a number of key intelligent parameters including: points.

Meanwhile, the closely-related driver app embraces a wide range of features including notifications, prompts, reminders and alerts; the ability to arrange bookings for servicing, maintenance and repairs, including tyres; a facility to report an incident or breakdown; a facility to upload images, capturing incident and/or vehicle condition; and the ability to update vehicle mileage in real-time.

The driver app provides employees with the facility to communicate with Fleet Service GB by phone, email and text.

Mr Bray said: “Driver influenced costs are the single biggest drain on fleet budgets. Effective communication underpinned by technology has a critical role to play in reducing those costs with drivers a key part of the solution.

“Additionally, disciplined driver performance is crucial to managing work-related road risk and ensuring compliance. The uniqueness of Achieve is that it continuously records and measures both individual driver compliance and performance via a points process to compile a real-time driver history taking into account all key data to produce a ‘drive safe, stay safe’ employee mentality.”

He continued: “Driver engagement, in my experience, is one of the biggest issues faced by companies. Too often there is an assumption that all an organisation has to do is issue a company car or van handbook and drivers’ will read it and know exactly what they should be doing.

“That is simply not the case. Over a 50-year career in fleet I’ve seen, and continue to see, how vehicle-related problems have occurred simply because fleet decision-makers have failed to communicate properly with drivers. That then has a direct impact on business efficiency and fleet costs.

“In today’s hi-tech age there is no excuse not to have an interactive driver communications strategy that will enhance the efficiency of the fleet. I’m aware, for example of one major fleet that records its own one minute videos on key fleet issues and sends them to all drivers.

“Additionally, drivers are a fleet manager’s eyes and ears on the road. In terms of the choice of vehicles and their features, the way a vehicle performs in-life and interaction with frontline suppliers such as fleet management companies and garages, drivers’ views should be actively obtained and taken into consideration when reviewing and potential changing policies.

“Too often fleet decision-makers sit in their own bubble and fail to embrace drivers’ views. Fleet decision-makers that fail to involve drivers in the decision-making process cannot possibly know what the day-to-day operational impact of any decisions may be.

“In a large organisation it may not be possible to engage individually with every single driver. However, drivers’ representative groups can be formed and all employees should feel that they can at least communicate by telephone or email with the fleet manager and their views will at the very least be listened to.

“For example, the driver handbook may recommend that vehicle tyres are checked monthly. But having conveyed that policy, how does a fleet manager know that checks are being undertaken as required? There may be a requirement, for example, to circulate video reminders or introduce a third party to undertake checks. Simply to communicate a policy once via handbook and expect it to be religiously carried out is a far too simplistic approach.”

The CIPD says: “Effective communication is a vital part of developing transparency in organisations. Clear and consistent internal messaging is also needed as the nature of organisations and their workforces continues to change, driven by factors including technology.

“Good employee communication will help people to understand their organisation’s purpose and strategy, identify with the organisation’s values, and develop a sense of belonging by understanding how their role contributes to the wider purpose. Workers are more likely to contribute more and feel committed if there’s a culture of open communication.”

Importantly, adds the CIPD: “Rather than being a ‘top down’ exercise, there needs to be two-way and multi-directional dialogue, so that people have meaningful opportunities to feed their views upwards and discuss them with colleagues. This is central to developing more effective and agile organisations, through innovation and responding to operational issues.”

The CIPD’s ‘Employee Communication’ factsheet can be viewed at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/communication/factsheet#15763

‘Outdated’ mobile phone legislation must be reviewed and extended to improve road safety

Calls have been made for the Government to update the law on the use of a mobile phone while driving – including banning the use of hands-free phones.

Safety organisations say that mobile phone use has evolved beyond the legislation that was introduced in 2003, which states that an offence is committed if a driver uses a hand-held mobile phone for ‘interactive communication’ behind the wheel.

Furthermore, a new report from the House of Commons Transport Committee says the Government should consider tougher restrictions on driving while using a mobile phone and stricter enforcement of the law to prevent the ‘entirely avoidable’ tragedy of deaths and serious injuries from related crashes on the roads

The calls come in the wake of a High Court ruling overturning the conviction of a builder for driving while using a mobile phone to record footage of a road crash in west London in August last year. Judges ruled that using a function on a mobile phone which did not involve ‘interactive telecommunication’, was not a mobile phone offence.

Claiming that the current law was “not fit for purpose” and that ‘interactive communication’ was an “outdated concept”, road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist said: “The Government must immediately update wording of mobile phone legislation.”

MPs on the Committee agreed as they have called on the Government to overhaul current laws on using hand-held mobile devices while driving, to cover use irrespective of whether it involves sending or receiving data.

Additionally, as evidence showed that using a hands-free device created the same risks of crashing, the Committee also recommended that the Government explored options for extending the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free phones. It wants a public consultation on the extension published by the end of the year.

MPs on the Transport Committee in a report, ‘Road Safety: Driving While Using a Mobile Phone’, said there was clear evidence that “using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous, with potentially catastrophic consequences”.

In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in collisions where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011, according to the Department for Transport.  

The High Court overturned the conviction of 51-year-old builder Ramsey Baretto, who had been using his phone to film the scene of a collision as he drove by. Lady Justice Thirlwall said: “The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone while driving. It prohibits driving while using a mobile phone or other device for calls and other interactive communications – and holding it at some stage during that process.”

She continued that the ruling was not “the green light for people to make films as they drive” and acknowledged that, despite the weakness in the law, drivers who did choose to use a mobile phone behind the wheel could still be prosecuted for more serious offences such as careless or dangerous driving.

Lady Justice Thirlwall concluded: “Whether a review of the regulations is necessary to take account of the myriad current and potentially dangerous uses of a mobile phone or other device while driving is a matter for Parliament, not the courts.”

The judgement could now pave the way for other defendants who felt misrepresented to challenge their similar convictions in a bid to have them quashed.

Mr Baretto’s legal firm Patterson Law, a specialist firm of UK motoring lawyers, said in a statement: “We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of this case. We have been arguing for many years that the legislation in relation to the offence of using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle has failed to keep pace with the evolution of smart phones. The increasing multi-functionality of smart phones was, in fact, making a mockery of the law.”

Reflecting on the Hugh Court ruling, Patterson Law said: “This is not a loophole argument/defence. This is simply the correct application and understanding of the law as it currently stands. The issue was that the law as it stood created anomalies and confusion. We now have the clarity in this judicial precedent to match what we had been correctly advocating on behalf of our clients for many many years.”

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “The Government’s failure to bring legislation up to date is putting lives at risk. We now have an absurd situation where the wording of the law is insufficient and cumbersome, only stating ‘interactive communication’ as an illegal use of a mobile phone when driving, when we know it is clearly unsafe to use a mobile phone for any purpose when driving.”

Specific laws applying to the use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving were introduced in December 2003. The penalties have gradually increased over the years and are now a standard fine of £200 and six penalty points, with a maximum of up to £1,000 and six points. The fine can rise to £2,500 if driving a bus, coach or HGV. Under current UK case law, ‘driving’ includes being stationary if a vehicle’s engine is running, including in traffic queues and at traffic lights. It is not a specific offence to use a hands-free mobile phone while driving.

Mr Worth said: “Although penalties have increased, the specific wording of the law governing mobile phones and driving has not changed for 16 years. We are writing to the Government urging it to update the legislation at the earliest opportunity. This will ensure it is fit for purpose, and will avoid further compromise to road safety.”

Mr Baretto was convicted in July last year after a magistrates’ court trial. He then appealed to the crown court and had the conviction overturned. The Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently launched a legal challenge in the High Court claiming that the legislation prohibited all hand-held mobile phone use while driving.

Transport Committee chairman Lilian Greenwood MP, said: “Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones. 

“If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel. Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.

“There is also a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe. The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention and the Government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.

“Each death and serious injury which results from a driver using a mobile phone is a tragedy that is entirely avoidable. We need tougher restrictions, better enforcement and more education to make our roads safer for all.”

GEM Motoring Assist’s tips on mobile phones and driving

  • Drivers are allowed to use a mobile phone when safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on
  • Do not pick up a phone in any other driving situation, including when stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic
  • The only exception to the above is if it is an emergency and it would be unsafe or impractical to stop, in which case call 999
  • Do not assume that using a hands-free kit means the risk has been dealt with. Drivers are still allowing themselves to be distracted from the task of safe driving, and could still be prosecuted for not being in control of a vehicle (an offence that carries a £100 fine and three penalty points)
  • Take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or to check voice messages and emails. Work together with friends, family, colleagues and work contacts to remove the expectation of availability at all times
  • Plan journeys to build in breaks from driving, where calls, texts or emails can be sent or checked or to interact with social media in a safe environment.

‘Must have’ air conditioning drives van values up and delivers a return on investment

Air conditioning is the new light commercial vehicle ‘must have’ feature driving residual values up by around 40% in some cases, according to latest analysis by remarketing giant BCA.

While air conditioning for cars is commonplace, it remains an option for vans and is not widely fitted across the UK’s light commercial vehicle parc. 

Consequently, the ‘driver comfort’ feature is hugely ‘desirable’ at remarketing time, according to BCA, with values typically outstripping standard vehicles by a considerable distance – well over £1,000 on average it is claimed, thus delivering a return on the upfront cost of fitting air conditioning as an optional extra.

BCA’s data analysis of sold vans at its auction showed that those fitted with air conditioning outperformed those without the option by a considerable margin in values achieved, performance against guide values and conversion rates.

Across all large panel vans sold by BCA during 2019 to date, vehicles sold with air conditioning averaged £6,440, equivalent to 102% of CAP ‘clean’, while those without averaged £5,374 (97.3% CAP ‘clean’) – a £1,066 benefit. The sales conversion uplift for large panel vans with air conditioning was a ‘substantial’ 15.5%, said BCA.

For small panel vans, vehicles with air conditioning averaged £7,975 (104.7% CAP ‘clean’), compared to £6,319 (99.3% CAP ‘clean’), a £1,656 increase in value – more than 26%. The sales conversion improved by nearly 5%.

Car-derived vans averaged £4,912 (103.7% CAP ‘clean’) at BCA during 2019 if fitted with air conditioning, and £3,499 (98.9% CAP ‘clean’) without, a ‘substantial’ 40.3% or £1,413 increase in value. Car-derived vans with air conditioning also saw a large increase of 11.5% in conversion rates.

The biggest value differential in favour of vehicles fitted with air-con was seen in the 4×4 Doublecab Pick Up sector. Values increased from £8,783 (99.8% CAP ‘clean’) without the option, to £10,514 (101.1% CAP ‘clean’) with air conditioning, generating a £1,731 uplift in value and a 3.8% improvement in conversion rates.

Jon Gilbert (pictured), BCA’s business development director, light commercial vehicles, said: “While it is to be expected that air conditioning will add value in the used light commercial vehicle market, the real uplift in value now appears to compare very favourably with the front-end costs of specifying this option.

“Light commercial vehicles with air conditioning are highly valued by professional buyers at BCA, because these are the vehicles their retail customers want to buy. For vans that are doing longer distance delivery work, or in a tradesman’s vehicle that doubles as the family transport at the weekend, air conditioning is exceptionally appealing. This is particularly apparent in the car-derived van sector where values increased by more than 40% and in 4×4 Doublecab Pick Ups, which saw the largest increase in value.”

Mr Gilbert continued: “Not only were remarketing values substantially improved, the sales conversion rate rose by up to 15.5% for large panel vans, making air conditioning a win: win option for light commercial vehicle operators specifying new vans for their fleets.”

He concluded: “These figures underline that up-speccing commercial vehicles at acquisition time can deliver real benefits to van operators.  A better specification will make a van more desirable and saleable, and higher-spec vehicles will often sell the first time they are offered, improving cash-flow for the seller.”

April 6, 2020 the ‘critical’ tax date as fleet chiefs and drivers weigh up company car replacement schedules and powertrain choices

Company car benefit-in-kind tax calculations highlight the complexity facing fleet managers and drivers as to whether vehicles should be replaced before or after April 6, 2020 – and the critical powertrain choice to the decision-making process.

In simple terms when choosing a new company car: If opting for a 100% electric model then delay replacement until after April 6, 2020 as huge benefit-in-kind tax savings will be made; if selecting a plug-in hybrid vehicle then the decision-making is less clear-cut, although a small tax saving can be made after that date; if deciding to drive a petrol or diesel car then the tax bill will be higher if the vehicle is registered after April 6, 2020.

Calculations following the Government’s company car benefit-in-kind tax announcement outlining rates for the three years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 and whether or not cars are first registered before or after April 6, 2020 – see http://www.fleetservicegb.co.uk/new-company-car-tax-regime/ – makes clear the importance of that date linked to the choice of fuel.

From April 6, 2020 company car benefit-in-kind tax is based on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as measured under the new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which replaces the long-established New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test.

Adding further complexity, and with specific reference to diesel cars, is the availability – or currently lack of – models that meet the new Real Driving Emissions Step 2 (RDE2) standard.

However, inquiries to motor manufacturers reveal that many have yet to publish WLTP-derived CO2 figures thus making direct comparisons with current company car benefit-in-kind tax bills impossible, and only a handful of RDE2-compliant diesel cars are on the market.

Nevertheless, what is clear is that despite the Government reducing rates by two percentage points on most company cars first registered from April 6, 2020, the benefit-in-kind tax burden is likely to be higher after that date than before on petrol and diesel cars. That is because the rate reduction is not sufficient to wipe out the rise in CO2 emissions under WLTP testing versus the NEDC-correlated CO2 figure – an interim calculation pending full WLTP CO2 adoption.

The following examples for each key powertrains – 100% electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel – illustrate the dilemma facing fleet decision-makers and drivers.

100% electric

The Nissan leaf is the UK’s best-selling ‘pure’ electric car. Using the five-door 40k 150 Acenta auto model (P11D value: £31,440), which has a homologated WLTP driving range of 168 miles, as an example shows the benefit-in-kind tax saving potential of switching to 100% electric.

In 2019/20 the company car benefit-in-kind tax rate on the model – and all other zero emission models – is 16%. That means a basic rate (20%) taxpayer is paying £1,006 in company car benefit-in-kind tax and higher rate tax payers (40%) £2,012.

However, the Government’s ‘green’ agenda means that in in 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 – irrespective of whether a car is first registered before or after April 6, 2020 – the tax bill will be £0 next year rising to £63 (20% taxpayer) and £126 (40% taxpayer) in 2021/22 and £126 (20% taxpayer) and £252 (40% taxpayer) in 2022/23. That means in the three years 2020/21-2022/23 a basic rate taxpayer will pay company car benefit-in-kind tax on the model of just £189 and a higher rate taxpayer only £378 – an unprecedented low burden.

Kalyana Sivagnanam, managing director of Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd, said: “We welcome these latest tax changes, which will add a further financial incentive for company car drivers to switch to zero emissions fleet vehicles and help accelerate demand for electric cars.”

Plug-in hybrid electric

The best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is the Mitsubishi Outlander. Selecting the 2.4h Dynamic auto model (P11D value: £38,500) with a zero emission range of 28 miles and a current CO2 figure of 40g/km sees the model fall in to the 16% benefit-in-kind tax rate band in 2019/20. That means a tax bill of £1,232 for a basic rate taxpayer and £2,464 for a higher rate taxpayer. In 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 on cars first registered before April 6, 2020 the tax burden reduces to 14% meaning a bill of £1,078 for a basic rate taxpayer and £2,156 for a higher rate taxpayer.

However, benefit-in-kind tax on the same model – the WLTP CO2 emissions figure rises to 46g/km – first registered from April 6, 2020 and total savings of £231 (20% taxpayer) and £462 (40% taxpayer) can be made in 2020/21 and 2021/22 before equalising in 2022/23 with a model registered prior to April 6, 2020. In 202021 the car will fall into the 12% tax bracket (£924/1,848), rising to 13% in 2021/22 (£1,001/£2,002) and to 14% in 2022/23 (£1,078/£2,156).

Diesel

Diesel has been the powertrain of choice for fleets and company car drivers since the introduction of CO2-based benefit-in-kind tax almost 20 years ago.

Now facing a four percentage point benefit-in-kind tax penalty unless cars meet the WLTP-related RDE2 emission standard, which is not mandatory until January 2021, the issue for fleet decision-makers and company car drivers is that few such models are currently available.

While selecting an RDE2-compliant will generate a tax saving versus a non-compliant model, delaying vehicle replacement until after April 6, 2020 is likely to mean that a wider choice of RDE2-compliant models is available as they arrive in showrooms.

However, the impact of WLTP testing will almost certainly not be enough to wipe out a higher CO2 emissions figure on those cars registered post April 6, 2020 compared to those registered prior to that date. Therefore, even if choosing a new RDE2-compliant diesel model the sensible move could be to replace now and not wait until April 6, 2020.

The entry-level RDE2-compliant Vauxhall Astra five-door hatchback 1.5 105PS Turbo D six-speed manual has a CO2 figure of 95g/km, which in SE trim has a P11D value of £19,720. With the car in the 23% tax bracket in 2019/20 the tax charge is £907 (basic rate taxpayer) and £1,814 (higher rate taxpayer) rising to £947/£1,893 in the following three financial years as the model then drops into the 24% tax bracket.

Vauxhall provided provisional ‘range’ WLTP CO2 figures of 117-125g/km for the entry-level diesel engine. Assuming the same model/trim combination is registered after April 6, 2020 and the car sits at the bottom end of the ‘range’ it will fall into the 26% tax bracket in 2020/21 giving a tax charge of £1,025 (basic rate taxpayer) and £2,051 (higher rate taxpayer) rising to £1,065/£2,130 in 2021/22 as the model falls into the 27% tax bracket and £1,104/£2,209 in 2022/23 as the model then drops into the 28% tax bracket.

Therefore, taking delivery of the model prior to April 6, 2020 will in the tax years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 deliver a tax saving of £353 (basic rate taxpayer) and £711 (higher rate taxpayer) versus a post-April 6, 2020 first registered model when WLTP CO2 figures are applied.

The Jaguar XF 163PS and 180PS diesel rear-wheel drive variants are among the first RDE2-compliant models to be launched.

The entry-level XF 2.0 four cylinder turbocharged 163PS Prestige diesel saloon (P11D value £34,725) has an NEDC-correlated CO2 emissions figure of 124g/km putting the model in the 28% benefit-in-kind tax bracket in 2019/20 giving a charge of £1,945 (basic rate taxpayer) and £3,889 (higher rate taxpayer). For a car registered prior to April 6, 2020 the tax burden rises to 29% in 2020/21-2022/23 giving a tax charge of £2,014 (basic rate taxpayer) and £4,028 (higher rate taxpayer). The previous non-RDE2-compliant model had CO2 emissions of 134g/km, which would have put it in the 34% benefit-in-kind tax bracket in 2019/20 rising to 35% in 2020/21-2022/23. However, Jaguar was unable to provide WLTP CO2 figures so benefit-in-kind tax bills on a model registered after April 6, 2020 cannot be calculated.

Audi has made its WLTP CO2 figures available and they clearly show the impact of the new emissions testing procedure on benefit-in-kind tax bills. For example, the entry-level A4 2.0 TDI 136PS S tronic Technik saloon (P11D value: £34,275) has an NEDC-correlated CO2 emissions figure of 103g/km that rises to 134g/km under WLTP testing for a standard specification model.

In 2019/20 the model falls into the 28% tax bracket giving a tax bill of £1.919/£3,838 before rising into the 29% tax bracket for the following three financial years giving an annual tax bill of £1,988/£3,976. However, Audi has yet to launch any RDE2-compliant cars so the model, if first registered after April 6, 2020, falls into the 33% tax bracket in 2020/21 giving a tax bill of £2,262/£4,524 rising to 34% in 2021/22 (£2,331/£4,661) and 35% in 2022/23 (£2,399/£4,798). That means over the three years 2020/21-2022/23 a basic rate taxpayer driver will pay an additional £1,028 in benefit-in-kind tax (£2,055 higher rate taxpayer) clearly showing the impact of the WLTP testing regime on CO2 emissions – and tax bills.

Petrol

Audi and Vauxhall are among very few vehicle manufacturers that were able to provide WLTP CO2 figures, despite the importance of the data for fleet decision-makers and company car drivers to calculate vehicle choices and the benefit-in-kind tax burden from April 6, 2020.

The Audi A4 saloon is a popular company car and the 2.0 TFSI 150PS S tronic Technik saloon (P11D value: £32,075) has an NEDC-correlated CO2 emissions figure of 126g/km that rises to 150g/km under WLTP testing for a standard specification model.

In 2019/20 the model falls into the 29% tax bracket giving a tax bill of £1,860/£3,721 before rising into the 30% tax bracket for the following three financial years giving an annual tax bill of £1,924£3,849.

However, due to the impact of WLTP, the model, if first registered after April 6, 2020, falls into the 33% tax bracket in 2020/21 giving a tax bill of £2,117/£4,234 rising to 34% in 2021/22 (£2,181/£4,362) and 35% in 2022/23 (£2,345/£4,490). That means over the three years 2020/21-2022/23 a basic rate taxpayer driver will pay an additional £771 in benefit-in-kind tax (£1,539 higher rate taxpayer) clearly showing the impact of the WLTP testing regime on CO2 emissions and thus tax bills and why it makes sense to, if possible, replace prior to April 6, 2020.

The new Vauxhall Astra 1.2 110PS model in SE trim has an NEDC-correlated CO2 emissions figure of 99g/km that rises to a ‘range’ of 119-126g/km depending on exact specification under WLTP testing.

In 2019/20 the model falls into the 23% tax bracket giving a tax bill of £860/£1,720 before rising into the 24% tax bracket for the following three financial years giving an annual tax bill of £898/£1,795.

However, due to the impact of WLTP, the model, if first registered after April 6, 2020 and assuming it has a CO2 emissions figure at the bottom end of the range, falls into the 26% tax bracket in 2020/21 giving a tax bill for that year of £972/£1,945. In 2021/22 the model will be in the 27% tax bracket and in 2022/23 the 28% tax bracket giving respective annual tax bills of £1,010/£2,019 and £1,047/£2,094.

That means over the three years 2020/21-2022/23 a basic rate taxpayer driver will pay an additional £335 in benefit-in-kind tax (£673 higher rate taxpayer) clearly showing the impact of the WLTP testing regime on CO2 emissions and thus tax bills.

Conclusion

Reviewing company car choice lists and profiling driver journey and mileage usage per individual is critical to arrive at the optimum vehicle and powertrain solution on a model-by-model, driver-by-driver basis.

Long gone are the days of a ‘blanket’ powertrain solution with a so-called ‘blended’ solution embracing 100% electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel almost certainly key.

However, rarely can a single date – April 6, 2020 – be so critical in the fleet calendar. To replace before or after that date alongside the powertrain choice could save, or cost, drivers hundreds of pounds a year in benefit-in-kind tax.

It should also be remembered that the CO2-related company car benefit-in-kind tax change will also impact on the fuel benefit charge if drivers are in receipt of employer-provided fuel for private journeys and employer Class 1A National Insurance contributions.

New case study published: Sleepless nights put to bed as LiveWest utilises integrated Fleet Service GB technology

“I now have fewer sleepless nights than I did six months ago”. So says Paul Ayris, fleet manager at LiveWest, following implementation of Fleet Service Great Britain’s (Fleet Service GB) Achieve-branded programme of services.

Critically that includes Achieve Driver Management, a comprehensive online real-time and fully integrated safe driving programme that measures driver performance, and the closely related driver app.

LiveWest’s business partnership with Fleet Service GB began in August 2018 with a pilot programme, but in April 2019 the housing association outsourced the management of its entire fleet of 317 light commercial vehicles to the organisation, which has now published a case study on the actions implemented and the results. The case study can be read here.

Getting the van drivers ‘on side’ was a key issue for LiveWest and their willingness to respond was underpinned by a record four-week sign-up to the Achieve Driver Management initiative.

Mr Ayris said: “I have been impressed by Fleet Service GB’s ability to listen to what we required and deliver solutions. One of the key reasons for engaging with the company was asking myself the question ‘what keeps me awake at night’?

“I now have considerable fewer sleepless night than I did before partnering with Fleet Service GB.

“When I switch my laptop on and open my Fleet Service GB portal I am effectively opening my fleet office. A snap shot overview is accessible 24/7 meaning that I can see the picture of the fleet spread across six counties at any moment in time.

“LiveWest now has a fully auditable vehicle and driver management system and we are doing as much as we can in terms of managing those assets and the business-related journeys they make. We are on top of managing the fleet.”

Marcus Bray, head of sales at Fleet Service GB, said: “Fleet management is all about continuous improvement and that is what LiveWest is focused on. The task does not standstill and is never complete, but having implemented a robust strategy it requires constant review and change for many reasons, not least due to business change and legislation.”

Fleet Service GB case studies on clients National Milk Records Group, Stannah and VPS Group are also available.