Everybody agrees that company cars are an important contributing factor to traffic congestion on Belgian roads. Various attempts - ideas or real measures - have been made to look for alternatives and stop the ballooning number of company cars, but new figures now show they have never been so popular. The figures apply to newly registered cars, these often replace older cars, but even then this means 40 extra company cars per day.
Higher cycle grants, tax benefits for those buying an electric bicycle, employers promoting different kinds of transport for employees, such as cheap season tickets for public transport: nothing seems to work to stop the growing number of company cars on our roads.
Belgians love their cars: apart from the number of company cars, private purchases were also up with 8 percent, though this may be linked to the recovering economy and the better economic prospects.
"Car is part of the salary package"
Joost Kaesemans of the Belgian Automobile Federation Febiac says: "I think it has something to do with the economic recovery (as more companies are hiring new people, red.). We see that a car is often part of the fringe benefits offered to convince young talents in certain sectors to choose for a particular company."
"All the more reason to work out a mobility budget. This will offer employees the choice to put together a tailored mobility package, and you could convince some of the commuters to opt for a combined transport model. There is work to do, if we want to reduce traffic jams."
The social partners have worked out a proposal for a so-called mobility budget for employees which should replace the company cars; this plan now has to be approved by the government. Company cars are commonly used by employers as wage costs are very high in Belgium while company cars are exempt from social contributions and taxes.