This week the first Whitbread PLC employees took delivery of Honda’s petrol-electric hybrid Civic IMAs. These are the first ‘green cars’ in the company’s 950 vehicle fleet and are indicative of the changes happening across the fleet.
Whitbread is using its employee benefits policies innovatively to reduce the company’s impact on the environment, implementing a range of incentives to encourage its employees to choose more environmentally friendly company cars.
The company has been working to minimise its fleet’s environmental impact since 1999 and was recently awarded its third 'green' star under the Government backed Transport Energy Motorvate scheme. The scheme recognises company car fleets which are managed in an environmentally responsible manner.
Initiatives which have been employed include changing ways of working, encouraging home-based working, which reduces the need for employees to travel, and linking mileage reimbursement to the fuel efficiency of the motor vehicle.
However, the change which has had the biggest impact is the adjustment to the monthly ownership allowance, which is linked to the fuel efficiency of the car chosen. Under Whitbread’s company car policy, drivers are given an allowance based on salary to select a car from a restricted list. Each car is assigned a ‘monthly cost of ownership’ value, which is then adjusted depending on its fuel efficiency. More fuel efficient vehicles attract a lower cost of ownership.
For those employees who need a car in the course of their work but who don't qualify for the MCO scheme, the company provides a choice of five cars, and even on this restricted-choice list, the company is keen to encourage employees to choose the more environmentally friendly option.
Laura Hartley was one of the employees who chose the new Honda Civic. "I was really pleased when I found out that Whitbread is actively trying to do something about the environment and the fact that I could reduce my costs simply by choosing a more fuel efficient car was great. The Civic is perfect: it has all the features that I want, is really fuel efficient and the fact that it attracts lower tax and is also exempt from the congestion charge is a bonus."
The cars were provided by Whitbread’s Fleet Managers, GE Capital Fleet Services and sourced through Chiswick Honda. Fleet Manager Nigel Trotman, says it is important to give employees the choice. "Whitbread takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and we were keen to offer employees a green company car option which reflects our commitments to the Motorvate scheme and the company’s wider environmental policies.
"We recognise that many of our employees spend a considerable amount of time in their car and that its choice is important to them, so offering a wider range, including vehicles like the Civic IMA, is one way of rewarding these people and making sure that they feel valued, at the same time as making progress on our environmental targets," he added.To read our in depth road test of the Honda Civic IMA [ click here ] Published 25 February 2004