UK companies are offering employees increasing choice in the make and model of the company car they drive, according to research by consultants Watson Wyatt.
Watson Wyatt's UK Compensation Report 2003 shows that only 10 per cent of sales executives and 11 per cent cent of field service engineers now have no choice over make and model of the company car they drive, compared with 16 per cent and 18 per cent respectively in its 2002 report.
The report shows that 36 per cent of sales executives have a free choice of car up to a maximum cost, while 55 per cent may choose from a range of makes and models designated by their employer. For field service engineers the equivalent figures are 32 per cent and 57 per cent.
There is even more choice for those outside of customer-facing roles. Almost half of senior managers have a free reign and a mere per cent have no choice. For non-sales middle managers, 43 per cent have a free choice while 7 per cent have no choice.
"The trend is clearly towards more choice. As the range of cars available, in terms of body styles, equipment and engine types has expanded in recent years, employers have allowed their company car drivers more freedom of choice over the vehicle most suitable for their individual needs," said Elaine Devonshire, a consultant at Watson Wyatt.
"And the choice is not just over what car employees drive but also in whether they can take a cash allowance instead to purchase or hire a car independently of their employer."
For example, of those companies providing a company car or car allowance to sales executives, only 49 per cent offer a company car only with no alternative to take cash as an alternative (compared with 56 per cent in Watson Wyatt's 2002 report). In non-sales roles, cash alternatives are now even more prevalent, with only 23 per cent of middle managers obliged to take a company car. Instead, 11 per cent of middle managers are provided with a cash allowance in replacement of a company car and 66 per cent are given the choice of a car or a cash allowance.
The average maximum cost including VAT for a company car for sales executives with a free choice is £17,727, rising to £24,796 for top sales personnel and £29,771 for general managers.