Some may feel it's been slow in coming, but there's been a palpable change in the company car over the past year or two. In many businesses it is on longer acceptable to drive a big, fuel guzzling car and people are talking of the merits of hybrid, ethanol and diesel vehicles. What's caused this move towards more environmentally friendly vehicles?
It seems that a major contributor to the change in car choice is the NGER (National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting) Act. Under the Act, companies, which reach greenhouse gas emissions beyond a certain level, must also include any emissions from fleet cars in that calculation. This, coupled with rises in petrol prices, has seen a swing towards fuel- efficient, environment conscious vehicles.
All this could mean good news for the environmentally minded consumer. Supplying company cars for Australia's biggest corporations is big business, so if those companies request green vehicles, the major car manufacturers will have little choice but to make them, and the choice for consumers widens. A great example of this theory is Toyota Australia's Prius. Since the hybrid car was unveiled in 2001, Toyota has seen an increasing demand for it, especially from fleets, and now the general public is starting to take notice too.
And it's a trend that is likely to continue. There is much talk about the Rudd government's pollution reduction scheme and what its impact will be. Amongst other carbon footprint reducing measures, there is likely to be new scrutiny of vehicle-related emissions. This will again have a knock on effect for companies replacing their cars, with demand expected to leap for fuel-efficient, smaller, greener vehicles. In fact, it may well be one reason why Toyota has decided to manufacture the Camry hybrid in Australia. By the time it rolls off the production lines demand for it's environmental credentials will probably be sky high.
The move towards green is being seen across a wide range of companies, from the big to the small. More and more businesses are sending their employees out in vehicles fuelled by diesel, or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). At the moment, due to vehicle classification, Australia has yet to see much interest in the electric car, though that may change with time. England, in contrast, has been quick to embrace the new environmentally friendly technology and on the streets of London it is increasingly common to see the compact, Indian, electric car, the Reva. Perhaps one day the same will be true of the Australian cities.