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Demand for diesel goes on and on

MORE than 60 per cent of businesses expect to switch to diesel vehicles in the future, according to HSBC Vehicle Finance’s Business Car Expectations Survey 2003.

The survey conducted by the Centre for Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Trent University also found that health and safety issues are taking a back seat.

The findings suggest the phenomenal rise in demand for new diesel cars will continue over the next 12 to 18 months as Britain's 3.5 million company car drivers seek to minimise benefit-in-kind tax by switching from petrol fuelled cars. Figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that diesel car sales have increased for 29 consecutive months and could account for 30 per cent of all new cars sold by the end of 2004.

A year after the introduction of the CO2 emissions-based company car tax, a structural shift is developing in the industry. Previous perk drivers are returning to company cars and the number of businesses offering drivers a cash alternative for cars has increased twenty-fold in three years. Fifty per cent of those surveyed anticipate further growth in cash for car arrangements.

The 2003 survey also exposes failing health and safety awareness. Only three-quarters of businesses have policies in place governing driving under the influence of drink, drugs, or using mobile phones, while 16 per cent of businesses never check their drivers' licences.

The rate of verifying employees' insurance has fallen dramatically, too: only 51 per cent of respondents - down 14 per cent - check if drivers in their private cars are covered for business usage.

Another survey highlight is that the revelation that 74 per cent of businesses say congestion charging will not reduce the number of journeys.

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