The UK is en route to a vehicle revolution. Not only are driverless cars set to become commonplace in the not-so-distant future, but the government is really beginning to clamp down on the number of polluting vehicles on our roads.
In fact, there are plans to completely eradicate the sale of both diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, as the UK makes a full-on switch to greener models.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) indicate that last year, 42 per cent of all cars were diesel vehicles, down from the 50.8 per cent figure reported back in 2012.
But the association predicts that the number of diesel cars registered will fall to 37.3 per cent this year. This is a sharp decline from the peak point back in 2016, when the number of diesel cars registered hit more than 68 per cent.
The reasons behind this fall are multifaceted.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s is trying to steer people away from buying diesel vehicles by hiking taxes for most new diesel vehicles and company cars.
Setting a precedent
A landmark court ruling in Germany has allowed some cities - including Stuttgart and Duesseldorf - to impose a ban on diesel cars from particular zones, setting a precedent for other cities in Europe.
Bearing in mind the UK has also struggled to meet EU air quality standards, the question is whether London and other big British cities could face the same restrictions.
The UK parliament is currently considering the launch of a government-led scrappage scheme, but some car manufacturers – including the likes of Ford, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen – have taken the bull by the horns by setting up schemes of their own, offering drivers a sum of money to trade in their diesel vehicles.
This shift towards greener fuel is not just a consideration for the lone driver, because the impact will weigh heavily on businesses too.
From April, tax for diesel company cars will be four per cent higher compared to an equivalent petrol car.
Joining the renewable energy crew means you could be completely exempt from tax (and London’s congestion charge), saving your company a fair wodge of cash.
Going green could also do wonders for your brand. Peter Alderson, managing director of LDF says: "With fleets accounting for over 50% of new vehicle sales, businesses are increasingly important to the growth of eco.
"The tax benefits available for hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs), teamed with the with increasing level choice from manufacturers across the spectrum would suggest a growing trend in business adopters."
Just the start
It seems inevitable that the government’s stance will only get increasingly tougher as time goes on, so businesses would do well to bite the bullet and consider investing for the long-term now.
While hybrid and electric vehicles still only make up a tiny 4.7 per cent of the entire UK car market, this growth is expanding at a massive rate as battery life improves and more models enter the scene.
Peter also comments: "It is suggested that by 2020, 42% of fleets will move to an eco-approach. Certainly, the number of our own business customers exploring eco options is higher than ever before.
"Cost, improved infrastructure and motorists confidence in renewable energies all appear to be helping drive this."
The automotive industry will continue to be a huge part of the British economy, but businesses large and small need to think forward and align themselves with the dramatic changes taking place.