What lies ahead in 2019 for UK fleets?
It’s the start of a new year, and there are a number of changes to be aware of if you are managing fleet.
A new lease accounting standard took effect from January 1 2019. The International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 16, which supersedes the current lease accounting standard, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 17, will mean leased assets, including vehicles on operating leases, will be brought on to companies’ balance sheets.
The rules have been introduced by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) with the aim of giving a more complete picture of a company’s financial position. They apply only to companies that report under IASB such as those listed on the stock exchange.
Brexit is still arguably the main issue weighing on the minds of the UK’s fleet managers, with big question marks over how Britain’s divorce with the European Union, which is currently expected to take place at the end of March, will impact driving rules on the continent amongst many other things.
Drivers may need to apply for one of two possible driving licences to drive on mainland Europe if the UK and EU fail to agree on a deal. Britons may be required to purchase either a 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic International Driving Permit (IDP) or a 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic IDP.
As time ticks on, with no sign of a ‘divorce-deal’ and with votes of no confidence being called which could potentially lead to the trigger of an early general election, Brexit will remain top of the agenda for Fleet Managers across all industries in 2019.
2018 saw the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which aims to deliver more accurate real-world test results for electric and combustion-engine cars, and the impact of this is expected to continue in to 2019.
For some car owners, WLTP may mean paying more in road tax, because the more accurate results from WLTP tests would bump some vehicles into higher tax brackets. However, this should become less of an issue in 2019 as car manufacturers continue to introduce models that have been developed with the WLTP regulations in mind.
LCV operators will have to come to terms with WLTP from September 2019, however it is hoped that car manufacturers with LCV divisions can learn from last year to create a smoother deployment in the new van market.
There have been some recent changes to the MOT test that will impact drivers in 2019. The rules have added new defect categories and stricter rules for emissions from diesels, as well as new exemption for some vehicles over 40 years. The changes were introduced in May 2018, as part of the EU road worthiness directive.
There are new categories for defects with cars which drivers will have to understand, which are:
- Dangerous – Direct risk to road safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Major – Could affect safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Minor – No effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Advisory – Could have an effect in future.
- Pass – Meets the current legal standards.
There are stricter limits for emissions from diesel cards with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. You vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester:
- Can see smoke of any colour coming from exhaust
- Find evidence that the DPF has been tampered with
A variety of new requirements are also being included in the MOT for the first time.
These checks include:
- Under-inflated tyres
- Contaminated brake fluid
- Brake pad warning lights and missing brake pads or discs
- Reversing lights (for vehicles newer than September 2009)
- Daytime running lights (for vehicles newer than March 2018).
There is also a new design for the MOT certificate, listing any defects under the new categories aimed to making it clear and easy for drivers to understand.
There are a number of things that aren’t changing, including the fees MOT centres can charge won’t charge. The government had considered lengthening the wait for a vehicle’s first MOT from three to four years, but for now it will remain unchanged. And you can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.
Diesel Car Tax
The tax rates of diesel cars were increased from April 1 of this year. This applies to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), usually known as road tax.
Instead of being fixed at £140 per year, VED rates will now be calculated based on the car’s carbon dioxide emissions.
The government is considering fines of up to £100 for motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.
These lanes are shown by red X’s on automated signs above the motorway, and are used when there is a blockage or accident to prevent further incidents.
The government is expected to announce that any drivers who ignore the signs could face fines of £100 or three points on their licence. It is also believed that they will be modifying roadside cameras to help identify drivers who violate the restrictions.
Motorists could be fined for not leaving enough space between their vehicle and a cyclist, and failure to do so could land the driver with a £100 fine and three points on their licence.
The Highway Code states that cars should leave a decent distance between them and cyclists when passing (1.5m).
Police forces across the country are being encouraged to penalise those who drive dangerously close to cyclists.
Ultra-Low Emission Zone
In April 2019 the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) will see drivers with older more polluting cars pay more to drive into London in a bid to clean up our air.
The ULEZ will be rolled out in three phases; the first of these will come in to effect in April 2019 in central London, where the congestion charge is currently in effect. In October 2020, a London wide low emission zone will be brought in to effect for larger vehicles such as lorries. The final phase will extend the ULEZ for all vehicles to inner London Boroughs in October 2021.
Buying an electric or hybrid car will also cost slightly more in 2019. In October 2018, the £4,500 grant provided by the Government to push more people towards buying plug-in electric vehicles was cut to £3,500.
Hybrid car buyers are also no longer eligible for the £2,500 grant that had been available last year.