New chair to provide statistics for debate on company cars


Politicians and automobile federations are waging a major debate on company cars, which has now led to the founding of a chair at the Brussels Studies Institute

Wage car vs service car

The Belgian automobile federations are sponsoring the new chair Company Mobility and Taxation at the Brussels Studies Institute (BSI). The purpose is to provide statistics on company cars, which are currently the subject of a major political debate.

Automotive federations Renta, Febiac and Traxio are joining forces to create the chair at BSI, a research institute jointly operated by both the Dutch- and French-speaking Free Universities of Brussels and the Université Saint-Louis. The chair will also involve environmental experts, mobility associations, the public transport sector and the government.

Because of the tax benefits of providing company cars to employees, they are regularly offered as part of salary packages. Those are the kind of company cars referred to as “wage cars” – generally, cars employees drive to work and then back home again. “Service cars”, on the other hand, are offered to employees who need the car to actually perform their jobs.

Many experts and politicians have recently called on the government to scrap wage cars and instead bring down the country’s infamously high labour costs. They argue that this would help to solve serious environmental and mobility problems. John Crombez, for instance, tackled the subject in interviews immediately following his election as socialist party president last weekend.

“But there is a huge lack of objective data in the debate,” said Frank Van Gool, general director of rental car federation Renta. Indeed, no government service has records on the number of wage cars in Belgium. Febiac estimated that there are about 560,000, while consulting firm Hay Group counted 650,000.

“There are also no uniform definitions of service cars as opposed to wage cars,” said Van Gool. “And there are many misunderstandings about the subsidising of wage cars.”

In September, the partners of the chair will start negotiations. By the end of 2018, the research should be finished. The timing is no coincidence: The statistics will be available before the elections of 2019.

Photo by Flavio Ensiki

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