Commercial fleets are leading the way for reduced vehicle emissions, according to new figures from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), which show that 96% of recently leased vehicles now comply with clean air zone (CAZ) guidelines.

Shaun Sadlier, head of consultancy, Arval UK, believes the technology involved in company cars to bring down tailpipe emissions to acceptable levels is yet to be reciprocated among privately-owned or leased models.

“The fact is that a wide range of factors mean company cars continue to be significantly superior emissions-wise compared to privately-owned or privately-leased vehicles,” said Sadlier.

“Probably the single most important is that they are newer and so take advantage of the latest technology and emissions standards, plus they will generally be better maintained.

“Additionally, the longstanding benefit in kind (BIK) taxation system tends to ensure that vehicle choices are made to minimise CO2 emissions in the vast majority of cases.”

Sadlier believes that investing in a hybrid or fully electric vehicle (EV) is a bigger financial consideration for domestic drivers, compared with businesses that can adopt eco-conscious vehicles more readily.

However, he warns that there are more hurdles for fleet operators to overcome in the coming years. The biggest challenge will be to encourage similar emissions standards in their grey fleet vehicles and those driven as part of employee ‘affinity’ schemes.

“In the real world, it is impossible to specify the same emissions protocols in the grey fleet as your company vehicles,” added Sadlier.

“The vehicles will tend to be older, for a start. However, it is important to place some kinds of limits on the cars that allow you to be used on business.

“It is even arguable that, because BIK taxation is not a factor, they can perhaps apply a wider range of emissions measures, such as paying more attention to balancing CO2 and NOx.”

Encouragingly, Sadlier says that more companies are showing a determination to improve the emissions performance of their fleet vehicles, as part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive to build trust and integrity within their respective industries.

“Climate change is receiving a lot of attention in the media at the moment and there is definitely a mood shift among an increasing number of businesses where they want to move their performance up a gear in this respect.

“Obviously, the arrival of new vehicle technology, such as EVs and hybrids mean that there is potential for taking quite radical action when it comes to cutting fleet emissions over the next few years.”