BVRLA pushes for 10-point rise in VAT reclaim rate

// The clock is ticking on a special concession granted to the UK by the European Commission (EC) on how much VAT a business can reclaim. Since 1995, companies have been able to recover 50% of the VAT incurred on the finance element of a company car leasing fee. However, the EC requires the Government to justify and renew the rate at which businesses can recover VAT every three years, and the next deadline is in 2014. The BVRLA is arguing for an increase in the amount fleets would be able to reclaim from 50% to 60%, which would be worth an additional saving of £100 million. But if this new higher rate isn’t accepted, the BVRLA says the industry could push for the VAT reclaim being settled on a case-by-case basis. This is what already happens in some European countries, but many are…

Fleets need smarter spending strategies

// Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) are calling on the fleet industry to integrate effective procurement into strategic business planning to aid their chances of success or survival in what will be an even tougher next 12 months. In 2013, the industry will once again have to deal with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) business mileage audits, duty of care and rising fuel costs challenges, says ERA. However, ERA’s smarter spending tips aim to provide business fleets with a basis for tackling next year’s key procurement challenges. Smarter spending tips: • CO2 emissions legislation – come into force in April 2013 for writing down allowances and lease restrictions. Every company car over 130g/km CO2 emissions will face a restriction on the amount that can be written down for tax purposes. Regardless of whether you buy or lease your company cars, this will affect the overall…

Euro NCAP tests the safety of vans

// Euro NCAP has crash tested some of Europe’s best-selling business and family vans using protocols that are more true-to-life than the current legal tests for these van-based vehicles. The safety organisation is calling on manufacturers to offer these vehicles with higher levels of safety equipment and for legislators to review their lenient legal safety requirements. In the tests, the Ford Transit Custom was the only vehicle to score five stars. The Hyundai H1 scored three stars. The Fiat Scudo also scored three stars while the Renault Trafic scored two stars. Some of these vehicles are also rebadged and sold by other manufacturers. The Fiat Scudo is available as the Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy. The Renault Trafic also sells as the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro and Nissan Primastar. Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP, said: “This time around Euro NCAP has focused…

Gridlock on UK roads costs the economy £4.3 billion

// Congestion costs Britain’s economy more than £4.3 billion or approximately £491 per car commuting household, according to a new report by INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The costs are based on wasted time and fuel, as well as indirect costs to UK households resulting from businesses passing the costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Direct costs (fuel and time): Fuel: More than £426 million is wasted on fuel alone – that’s £52 worth of fuel cost per-car commuter for 8.2 million British commuting drivers Time: The average cost of time wasted in gridlock per commuter equates to £331 – that’s a total national time cost of £2.7 billion Indirect costs (rising cost of goods and services): Household Goods: 19% of traffic during the daily commute is business or freight vehicles and as a result over…

Driverless cars now technically feasible

// The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project has shown it is technically feasible for a lead truck to control a convoy of vehicles driving behind it using wireless technology. The EU-financed project, which involved three years of research and trials, allowed representatives from the EU Commission and experts in transport technology from Europe, the US and Japan to see a fully functioning wireless road train in operation at Volvo’s proving ground in Sweden. The road train was led by a Volvo FH truck, closely followed by another Volvo truck and three cars. Wireless technology ensures that the trailing cars follow exactly in the track of the lead vehicle – as though the train consisted of a single vehicle. The result is that the driver in a trailing car can relax, perhaps read a book or watch TV, while the car drives…

BMW introduce new 4 Series Coupé for 2013

// BMW will introduce a new four-seat coupé in 2013 to compete with the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé. The BMW Concept 4 Series Coupé, revealed this week, suggests the production version of the 4 Series Coupe will attempt to stand out more from the 3 Series, with which it will share many of its components. The wheelbase (2,810mm) is 50mm longer than that of the existing 3 Series Coupé, while 45mm has been added to the front track (1,545mm) and 80mm to the rear track (1,593mm). At 1,826mm wide, the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupé is 44mm wider than its predecessor, its roof line is 16mm lower (1,362mm) and it is also longer at 4,641 mm. The model appears close to how a production version would look, despite being a concept car, and more details are expected closer to the car’s launch…

Save £££s with a company car scheme

Asda has seen cost savings of around £950,000 a year since it switched from a cash allowance to a company car scheme in 2010. Asda has used the savings to improve the choice and specification of the cars available through the scheme. The grocery retailer had 1,500 employees eligible to take a cash allowance to purchase a company car. Between January 2010 and January 2011, 53% of orders for cars were placed by employees entering the company car scheme rather than opting to take a cash allowance. Following the change, the fleet grew from 790 cars to 1,100 in less than 12 months. Asda also developed an online calculator to help demonstrate the cost savings to staff of taking a company car over a cash allowance. The company car scheme was communicated via onsite roadshows and newsletters. Mike Hazelgrave, reward manager at Asda, said:…

Blue light ‘as good as coffee’ behind the wheel

// Blue lights could be the key to combatting sleep-related road accidents according to a new study. Researchers from the Université Bordeaux Segalen in France found constant exposure to blue light to be as effective as coffee in improving a driver’s alertness. And we’re not talking about the flashing blue type adorning emergency vehicles – but blue LED lamps fitted to a car’s dashboard. According to the study published in the journal PLoS One, tiredness causes one third of all motorway fatalities. It’s hoped the researchers’ findings could mark the first steps towards developing electronic anti-fatigue systems in cars, which go further than the current crop of driver safety aids such as lane departure warning systems and focus specifically on addressing drivers falling asleep at the wheel after dark. Blue light is known to stimulate retinal nerve cells which are linked to the nerve…