We’ve been in the company car business for over 15 years now so we know that choosing the right car can be a tricky decision for drivers to make, especially with all the considerations that need to be made. Which is why we’ve put together this helpful guide that details all the aspects you need to consider, whether it’s a company car or not, to help you make the right choice for your next new car.
How Your Driving Affects Your Company Car Choice
The first thing you’ll need to consider how you drive, as this will have a big impact on what will be the best vehicle for you.
One of the most important things your driving style will impact is your fuel choice. For example, harsh acceleration and braking might mean that a hybrid isn’t the best fuel option for you as you won’t make the most of some of their technology. Or if you travel on a lot of long journeys then you will want to look for the most fuel-efficient option.
Types of Journeys
Another consideration under your driving is the type of roads you’re driving on and what their condition is like. Will you be driving in the city where there’s a lot of stop-start traffic? Or will the majority of your driving be done on winding country roads? Knowing what type of road you are driving on will help you to pick an appropriate car choice as a diesel SUV might tick all your boxes but if you’re largely doing small journeys in city traffic then you won’t be running it enough to clear the diesel particulate filter and you’ll have further issues with getting this replaced.
Another thing you want to consider is the size of the vehicle you require and how this is made up.
First, we advise you think about the exterior size of the vehicle and what your limits are for both a minimum and maximum size. This will help you decide on the body type you want to opt for as generally size wise they grow larger respectively between coupes, hatchbacks, saloons, estates and SUVs.
Then you’ll want to think about how this will translate to internal space, as well as what you need from it. Consider how many seats you need and the space you’ll want for rear passengers, in particular the third row if you need it as in many cars these are fold up seats with minimal room that is uncomfortable on longer journeys. Another aspect of space you’ll need to think about is the boot space and how much you’ll need to carry cargo wise. If you have children then you’ll need to consider how their needs may change as they grow as well, for example having to fit a pram or sports kits into the boot.
Everyone has different tastes in style, favourite brands, and must-have features and as we spend a significant amount of time in our vehicles we know it’s important to take into account personal preferences when choosing your next car.
We advise thinking about what’s really important to you, whether you need a particular brand, the features you need to have and what you can live without.
One area where driver’s personal preference can vary massively is on the connectivity of their vehicle. Some drivers now consider it a must have for their vehicle to have Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging and 4G or Wi-fi availability and others are quite happy to be unreachable while on the move.
Modern cars can be incredibly connective and keep you in constant communication with the outside world with voice controls, text reading and phone systems that use the car’s interface. The level of connectivity will vary depending on the spec level of a vehicle you choose so we recommend thinking about what you really need your car to do before picking the spec level. If you do a lot of driving between meetings and need to remain contactable the having a hands-free phone option available will be important.
For some drivers the brand of the car is particularly important. They may have found one that matches their image, meets all their safety needs even on the basic models or they like the status symbol of particular one.
It’s important to consider if you have preferred brands and we advise ranking these in order of preference if the brand name is important to you.
Financial Implications of the Company Car
No matter whether your vehicle is a personal or company one there will be financial implications for you. In this section we will look at the various financial implications you might face and how this can impact your decision on what car to choose.
If you're looking for a new vehicle the first thing you want to consider on the money side is what your budget is. Whether you are looking to make one lump sum payment or regular monthly payments towards the vehicle you should know what your ideal amount is as well as the most you are willing to go to.
When considering the maximum budget you should make sure you have the funds available for the associated costs.
An obvious contributor to the cost of a vehicle is how it is being funded. We've got a detailed guide to funding methods but wanted to give you a quick rundown of the different methods available for you in this guide as we think it's a key part of finding your right car,
If you are paying for it yourself, receiving a cash allowance from your employer or driving a company vehicle which will have tax implications.
We’ve got a detailed breakdown of each of these funding methods which you should take a look at for more information on them in our company car section.
What you’ll want to consider as well as who is paying is whether the vehicle is being paid for in instalments or one upfront payment. If it’s going to be monthly payments for a contract purchase or a contract hire (lease) agreement, then you’ll also want to consider if there will be a larger initial rental or balloon payment that could lessen the monthly costs for you.
As well as the purchase price or monthly payments that you need to make for the vehicle there will be other financial costs that you’ll need to factor into the affordability of a particular model.
These additional costs include:
- Vehicle excess duty (Road Tax)
- Additional taxes, if a company car or company fuel benefits are provided
- Servicing and maintenance
- MOTs (on models three years and older)
- Any balloon payments at the start / end of the agreement
Depending on whether you are funding the vehicle personally or through a cash allowance, part of a salary sacrifice or it’s a company car then the number of these you will be responsible for will vary. Your company will usually let you know what you’re going to be responsible for paying or what they will cover
If you are driving a company car then you will be taxed on this. Company car tax is a tax that you will pay as a deduction from your monthly earnings and is calculated based on the car’s emissions and your personal tax rate.
You can find out more about how to calculate your company car tax here.
Leasing or Buying Your Own Car
If you are not driving a company vehicle then you might be looking to lease or buy your own car. Each come with their own benefits and considerations you should bear in mind. For example, if you don't want the depreciating asset then leasing would be the best choice but if you're concerned about not being able to make any amendments to the vehicle such as adding a tow bar then owning your own car might be a better option. Ultimately it will depend on your individual circumstances as to which is the best option for you. Click here to find out more about the benefits of each.
Fuel Types and Company Cars
Another thing to consider when deciding on the right vehicle for you is what fuel type you are going to choose.
Currently there are four main options of fuel types in the UK:
- Hybrid petrol / diesel
We’ve got a detailed breakdown of each fuel type here so that you can do some more research on the pros and cons of each option to decide on the right choice for you.
Electric Company Cars
There’s currently a lot of incentives for drivers looking to switch to an electric model, as the government pushes drivers before the ban on new hybrid, diesel and petrol vehicles comes into effect in 2030. As we get closer to that date and the available funds for electric vehicle (EV) incentives reduces we’ll likely see these incentives also reduce.
At the minute EV drivers can benefit from very low company car tax rates, with it currently at 0 per cent for the tax year 2020 /21 and rising to just one per cent next year.
There are also a number of grants available to help with the purchase price of the vehicle and the cost of installing a home charger.
If you are interested in a EV and want to learn more about the grants available, how their technology works and the other benefits check out our electric guides.
Another consideration you’ll want to bear in mind is whether your company has any restrictions or recommendations for vehicles driven on business journeys. This may include your personal vehicle if this is used for company travel.
Restrictions can be as simple as the monthly budget for your company car or recommending you take an EV because of the financial benefits for you and the business.
You will also usually have to agree to ensure the vehicle is in a safe and road-worthy legal condition.
Other restrictions can vary depending on the business and we recommend checking these before looking at any new car to ensure you don’t find a model you love only to discover it doesn’t meet these criteria.
Length of Contract
Whether you are signing on for a company car or a personal lease vehicle you should be mindful of the length of contract and whether this works for you. If you're expecting any lifestyle changes that might impact your ability to make payments for the vehicle or your needs that make it an unsuitable car.
Additionally, you might find that changing the contract length will change the amount you have to make on monthly payments. So it's worth bearing in mind the contract length when deciding on the right choice for you.
For more helpful information on choosing your next car, driving a company car or other important corporate driver guides head back to this section.