Environmentally friendly cars

Ministers go green as Labour gets hybrids

The Story: The Government is adding hybrid vehicles to its ministerial company car fleet in a bid to meet its own CO2 emissions targets.

Ministers are being encouraged to swap existing Rover or Jaguar models for the petrol-electric Toyota Prius.

The Government Car Service, which runs the fleet on a day-to-day basis, expects 25 ministers to choose such a model by the end of the year.

The Prius is currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge and is one of the cleanest models available, producing only 104g/km of CO2.

The Response: Environment minister Elliot Morley, one of the early recipients of a hybrid car, says that the acceleration of the vehicle is encouraging, although its quiet engine nearly led to him running over a member of the House of Lords.

However, many in the fleet industry believe that the range of hybrid cars must expand if they are to continue to be popular.

Graham Rees, managing director of fleet provider Fleetworx, said: "Hybrids need to be able to offer different styles, such as lifestyle cars. [The Prius] is not the most pleasing thing on the eye."

A lower benefit-in-kind tax on such cars may lead many organisations to consider including them in their fleets.

However, with many company car drivers taking a cash allowance instead, this trend could suffer as employees opt for sporty gas guzzling motors instead of environmentally friendly options.