'Appropriate' cars - Paul Robinson
I'm seeing ever increasing amounts of paperwork from people who are considering opting out of company car schemes and taking car allowances. Often it says somewhere, something like - if the employees position involves visiting customers/clients, the allowance must be used for a car that is appropriate for the employees position.

I'd be interested to read peoples general comments about what they consider that means for middle management types, also more senior heads of departments etc.
'Appropriate' cars - Marc
4 doors and under 3 years old
'Appropriate' cars - peterb
Companies are more relaxed about this than they used to be in terms of type of vehicle. Some stick to four doors but many will now live with coupes, MPVs, mainstream 4x4s etc provided they aren't too old.

However many companies are increasingly concerned about safety. The company can be held liable in the event of the employee's death/injury on company businees if it hasn't taken adequate steps to ensure safety. Hence employees provided with an allowance may be required to have a vehicle with a driver's airbag, ABS etc.

One of my clients in addition to a long set of age/safety criteria even required line-manager sign-off for the individual's choice of (personally owned although funded by the comapny allowance) car.
'Appropriate' cars - DavidHM
Personally I would say something that is reliable, in good condition, reasonably modern looking and projects an air of status. An absolute bottom line would be a mint 10 year old Mondeo, but realistically, something under 5 years old, at least Focus sized and with no dents, missing wheel trims, black smoke, etc.

For more senior management, something under 3 years old or prestige under five and at least Mondeo or 3-series sized. Of course, a business would like to hope that its employees would go for something a little more grand but it's only partially for tax reasons that employees opt out and they need to accept some flexibility in an employee's choice of car.

Of course, classic cars and the like may cause real problems. I think a Citroën CX looks fantastic, but who's to say that a client will see it merely as a banger, a relic or a symbol of eccentricity.
'Appropriate' cars - Morris Ox
Depends on who you work for, what your role is, whether the car is working tool or perk, what their service/product is, what their company culture is & how they like to be seen. Mainstream situations dictate mainstream choices, different situations accomodate different choices - look at the number of creatives where Minis and Smarts come into play.

If you're in mainstream industry, be it manufacturing or service, then you just pick out from a list of the usual suspects. larger companies often have single supplier deals if they're buying in bulk or have an agreement with a supplier near their head office.

Middle management, head of department is usually either high spec or high-end mainstream marques (Mondeo Zetec/Ghia or anything up to an Alfa, Saab or Volvo) or compact/low-end prestige marque (Saab, Volvo again because they straddle this divide, and Audi, BMW, Jag, Merc, Lexus, Land Rover etc). You sometimes get flexibility if your personal cricumstances demand it (an MPV or etstae instead of a hatch/saloon, for example) but choices are naturally restricted to keep costs controlled and stop jealousy etc.

Then you get the quirkies which fall outside these definitions but are in price bracket and usually come into play because of your personal worth to the business - Subaru Impreza, for example.

It's all a matter of what your policy is on packages, but the easiest way to control it is through the amount you offer as the lease on a 4x4 or high performance car will usually be higher on something the same price but more mainstream as the mainstream choice costs less to run.

Giving people choice and latitude is sometimes a great way to motivate them, but it can also backfire if the sales guy who used to run a company Mondeo suddenly starts turning up to appointments in an Impreza WRX STi. If I was a client I'd start wondering just how much he was making out of me...
'Appropriate' cars - 3500S
I have to look at and interview some of the contractors we hire, the car park visitors bays are outside my window. I can see them pull up. Admittedly, the car they drive usually says more about them than the salespitch I get.

I'd say by projecting the right image is a mainstream car that just looks clean and well looked after. One contractor turned up in a Citroen DS21 as it was a very fine day and it was his personal transport - a weekend classic; he was hired almost on the spot.
'Appropriate' cars - eMBe {P}
Here is a "real-life" answer; in all cases, whether on allowance or on lease, cars must Saloons and be under 3 years old and replaced within 1 month of going over 3yrs:
1. all sales staff travel 25k+ miles a year, and have all opted for a fully expensed car (FEC). The choice is limited to Mondeo/Vectra/Passat.
2. Middle managers - despite being advised to take allowance, some have opted for FEC. Either way, they have to choose from BMW 3 series, Merc C class, or Lexus 200.
3. Senior managers as per 2, except choice from BMW 5, Merc E or Lexus 300.
4. Directors - choice limited to Merc S320.
5. Accounts & IT staff, who do not have to visit clients, are the only ones allowed total freedom to choose. Some examples chosen are MiniCooper, BMW330Ci, AudiTT, and Toyota MR2.
'Appropriate' cars - Altea Ego
Ok in my companies case

YOu are given an "allowance" to spend. Allowance amount depends on rank and seniority. You are then given a leasing co list which gives the monthly cost per car. YOu can then choose any car up to twice your allowance and you pay the difference, or if its less, they pay you. The list has "any car, deliverable within the uk, warranted and serviceable at a franchised dealership" It has every level of car from suzuki swift, to £64k Porsche.

If you opt out the company pays you the allowance amount into your salary. There is NO stipulation on type or age of car except
it must be road legal and "available for use at ALL times" Thats a handy catch phrase as it means if you have an old banger, (sorry "classic" )and its off the road, you will have to hire a car to meet the requirement.

At certain grades you get a petrol card. This proving unpopular as the latest budget REALLY screwed that perk down.
'Appropriate' cars - 3500S
One guy wrote an article in P6 News (Rover Owner's club), he got one of the main specialist's (I think Annable's although might be wrong) to do a total rebuild on a 3500 P6 Auto at a cost of over £10,000. That included all the US import toys (electric windows and air-con). Effectively better than a brand new P6.

He ran this as an everyday car on his car allowance, as it was his main car, cheap insurance, tax exempt and various other BIK he was exempt from.

As far as I know, it's still going strong.
'Appropriate' cars - smokie
I get a company fuel card for business and private mileage and make no contribution. I run my own car on car allowance. I understood that the punutive tax on private-use fuel cards only applied where you had a company car. For years I just declare the value of my provate petrol on my tax form and it is taxed as benefit in kind.

My company has loosely policed rules (i.e. not much at all!)saying something like 4 doors, max 4 years old. The new policy (issued today, effective June) says that if you are required to use a mobile phone or communicator in your car, you must fit a hands-free kit at your own expense. Company cars get these at no cost.
'Appropriate' cars - Morris Ox
Smokie, you really ought to have a good, close look at this.

The formula for BiK on fuel has been getting very borderline for the past couple of years and I suspect that within a year you'll find that it is better to give up the card, fuel it yourself, and claim expenses.
'Appropriate' cars - smokie
Morris, earlier in the year I had a long chat with the tax office following a tip off from an accountant friend that the rules were changing.

The key thing is that I do not have a company car. See www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/cars/fuel_ben_charge_0304...m. My recollection is that the scale charges only apply if you have a company car with your fuel card. There's no doubt that if I was charged scale charges I would be better off to give the card back and pay my own private fuel (except that isn't an option with my company).

This year's changes don't seem to affect fuel for me, but they do prevent me claiming costs of running the car (incl depreciation) directly against tax I think I can claim a mileage rate ( www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/pdfs/ir124.htm) , but I'm not sure how this works - as I understand it, the rate includes an element for fuel but in my case this is already paid. It's probably time I wrote to the tax office to get a clear answer in writing...
'Appropriate' cars - flatfour
My company also say a suitable type car, they bulked when i suggested a classic, saying it would not be reliable, couldn't get a definate definition, although i heard from one of my collegues that if i thought i could get away with a 10 year old seirra they would stop paying my allowance! I was given the spec of Skoda Octavia upwards, no mention of 2 door coupe, 4x4 or even a crew cab!
'Appropriate' cars - Altea Ego
The Tax on fuel cards has changed. This will be taxed on the CO2 output of the car just like the car value itself and at the same rate, ie if your CO2 rate is 20% of the P11D - so is your Fuel benefit.

Value my car