Doctor Diesel

High miles for Hybrids?

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dd1I wondered if you had any helpful views on hybrids as company cars? Weíve standardised on leasing Passat Estate 2.0 TDIs for a number of years (although Iím cheapskate and have a Skoda Octavia!) and we have one car coming due for replacement quite soon. We were recently asked to explore the hybrid option in the board meeting. It’s probably a good move for reducing any individualís BIK taxation, but I’m not sure how well suited they are for a mileage of 40k per year, in most cases much of it rural. Your thoughts?

N.R. Shropshire

Regarding hybrids as potential company cars, any move away from Passat 2.0 TDIs is going to be a bit risky, as I’m sure they have been a very sound choice. It would be interesting to look at how your Octavia compares with them on running costs though. Old model Passats are now dropping in value fast, but if you are on contract hire there will be no surprises to come at change time.

Old model Toyota Prius(es) are running up very high mileages with taxi firms, with no significant problems, and traction battery problems are virtually unknown. Funnily enough we have just covered the Prius (up to the 2016 model change) in our Used Car Buyer’s Guide in last month’s issue, and after much research for my contribution (Dr Diesel Says…) it was very positive, but they are definitely something of a Marmite car for most people.

Other more recent hybrids have got nothing like the same track record, and maybe some employees would seriously miss the cargo capacity of a big estate car, but the Toyota Auris Touring Sports hybrid uses the same running gear as the (old model) Prius, is surprisingly capacious, and might well suit some people, although it is far from an exciting car to drive.

Personally, I would think it’s a bit early to take a chance on the newer hybrids – Volvos, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, etc. and the real life fuel economy is often not that good. It might be best to select an employee with the most urban driving schedule if you wanted to try a hybrid, because there’s no real evidence of running cost benefits for hybrids in high mileage open road motoring – the big gains are all in stop-start city driving.

Have a look at Honest John’s Real MPG online to get an idea of fuel costs. Going back to diesels, if costs are important, you might take a look at the SEAT Leon ST estate, which is very fine value indeed and runs on most of the same mechanicals as the Volkswagen Golf. A Leon ST SE 2.0 TDI or even a 1.6 TDI would make a very fine business car. But very much depends on the sort of contract hire rates that you can get on suitable vehicles at the time of sourcing, and there are sometimes almost irresistible short-term offers! Regards,

Doctor D

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