Peugeot has revealed its fleet plans for the new, diesel-hybrid Peugeot 508 RXH, an estate with the lowest running costs in the segment.
Peugeot's UK sales have perked up this year by 3.23 per cent for the first quarter of the year.
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This figure outperformed the overall market which showed just less than a 1 per cent rise in new car sales.
Demand for their family sized upper medium D-segment two wheel drive 508 Saloon and SW estates launched in Spring 2011 has certainly helped sales, especially to the fleet and business sector.
Now the 508 gets the range topping diesel/electric Hybrid4 two/four wheel drive variants which could see the brand break into the premium sector, something French manufacturers have failed to do in the UK.
The CO2 emission based tax savings these Hybrid4 versions of the 508 offer cannot be ignored in this financial climate.
So the low 12 per cent Benefit-in-Kind company car tax will appeal to business drivers and the 100 per cent Write Down Allowance against taxable profits in the first year of ownership will appeal to businesses.
Free road tax
The £0 cost road tax rate in the First Year rate and then £20 per annum for the 107g/km SW estate version, and nothing for the slightly CO2 cleaner 95g/km Saloon, will appeal to both retail and fleet/business customers. London dwellers or commuters will note that the 508 Saloon Hybrid4 is free of the Congestion Charge as well.
The tax issue is most likely the key that will unlock the door to the top models appealing to those increasing number of buyers who can afford to buy in the premium sector.
The Hybrid4 RXH SW with its higher ground clearance and all wheel drive goes on sale in May and the Hybrid4 Saloon, again with all wheel drive, arrives in July. Both roomy models come with classy exterior styling and with one top level of specification for the interior. The 508 RXH SW costs £33,695 and the Saloon £31,450.
The conventional 508 Saloon and SW estate models have a UK annual sales target of around 8,000 units in total with a slight sales bias towards the SW estate and 75 per cent of sales go to fleet and business user-chooser customers.
The RXH Hybrid4 SW will add around a 1,000 units a year to those sales figures and the Hybrid4 Saloon around 2,000 units. Again the SW estate is likely to sell marginally more than the Saloon but 85 per cent of customers, because of the low tax penalties, will go to fleet and business customers.
Vince Clisham, Peugeot's UK product manager for the 508 range said at the press launch this week, "Fleet and business sales are what we overwhelmingly target for the 508. The new Hybrid4 lower tax models will strengthen the overall appeal of the range in the upper medium sector and move the range to being considered by premium brand buyers."
He added, "Each of our 250 UK dealers will have a 508 RXH SW estate as a demonstrator because customers need to try the benefits the diesel-electric drivetrain technology brings to the segment as well as understanding the tax benefits. Dealers who already have a large number of fleet business customers will have the Hybrid4 Saloon 95g/km CO2 emission model as a demonstrator as well when it arrives in a few months time but both models are available to order now."
According to figures issued by Peugeot the most obvious premium brand competitor for the Peugeot 508 RXH Hybrid4 estate is the Audi A4 Allroad 2.0-litre TDI priced at £31,155.
This has a 177bhp diesel engine with CO2 emissions of 159g/km so BIK company car tax is 24 per cent which means the 40 per cent company car tax payer has a monthly tax bill of £249 with an annual National Insurance contribution of £1,032 and the Company Write down Allowance is £6,231 a year.
By comparison the 508 RXH with a 2.0-litre diesel engine plus an electric motor combine to give 200bhp but costs more to buy at £33,695. However the lower 107g/km CO2 emissions means BIK tax is only 12 per cent, the monthly tax bill £135,
National Insurance Contribution is £557 and the P11D price of £33,640 can be written off against taxable profits in the first year of ownership.