A new report from the UK's Energy Saving Trust (EST) has found that company fleet operators believe that implementing a green fleet would cost them.

This contrasts with EST figures whowing that implementing 'green' fleet management could actually save UK businesses money - over GBP2.5bn a year.

The EST's Behind the Wheel report, launched on Wednesday (20 June), examines business leaders' attitudes to their company car fleets and their impact on the environment. The report reveals a worrying lack of interest from many companies over their vehicles' impact on the environment and their bottom line. Company car fleets are frequently the second largest overhead a company incurs.

As well as making proven financial sense, running a green fleet can also impact greatly on an organisation's carbon footprint and contribute towards greater awareness amongst staff and customers of a company's commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, EST said.

Its research also shows that consumers are becoming more insistent on a company demonstrating its environmental credentials. Over half (58%) of consumers say they still want to see more evidence of what companies are doing about climate change. Yet, in the report, fewer than half of the companies surveyed (48%) have CSR or environmental policy and of those only 42% of companies take into consideration the impact of their vehicles on the environment in these policies.

Other key findings in the report show:

  • Only half of UK businesses believe that running a greener fleet will save them money
  • Only a quarter of companies offer incentives to employees to choose a lower CO2-emitting car, meaning that the majority of UK businesses promote a choice of cars with higher running costs that also increase their carbon footprint.
  • A fifth of companies (21%) still insist that eligible employees drive a car commensurate with their grade, meaning the higher the earner, the higher the CO2 emissions - despite the range of low CO2 executive cars now available.
  • Just 11% of UK companies that offer company cars have reviewed their fleets' carbon footprint.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "When it comes to company car fleets, the business case is the environmental case. Yet we frequently find that fleets are not being discussed at the right level in companies. Very few organisations discuss their company car fleet as a boardroom agenda item.

"Yet, the companies who have shown leadership at a high level are the ones who are implementing green fleet policies with tremendous success - in terms of carbon and monetary savings. As with any serious operational restructure, buy-in at the top is essential. Last year, we helped over 120 companies run a greener fleet through our free and impartial Green Fleet Review service which helps organisations improve the environmental performance of company fleets"

EST estimates that there are 720,000 car fleets in the UK, representing 2,991,000 vehicles under 7.5 tonnes in weight. For a fleet of 100 vehicles, it has calculated that the average company will save GBP90,000 per year by implementing green fleet management policies.

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