Company cars are (partly) fiscally deductible, making the country a fertile breeding ground for company vehicles. For employers, company cars are a handy way of giving the employees an extra form of payment and simultaneously solving their mobility problems. 68% of the Belgian employees use a company car for commuting.
11.4 million (entire country)
Source: Federal Public Administration of the Interior, 1 January 2019
Brussels (1.2 million)
|Major cities|| |
Dutch (60%), official in Flanders; French (40%), official in Wallonia. Both main languages are co-official in Brussels. German (<1%) is co-official with French in a small zone in eastern Belgium bordering Germany.
Source: Country Economy
|Unemployment rate|| |
5.7% (April 2019)
Source: Trading Economics
|Main industries|| |
Engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Belgium’s economy benefits from the country’s central location in Western Europe, its highly developed transport sector (Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest port), its diversified base of industries and services, and its highly skilled workforce (with a high level of productivity).
Belgium’s workforce totals just over 5 million, with the majority (73%) in services, a quarter in industry and a small minority (2%) in agriculture.
Wallonia’s old industries (coal, steel, etc.) are largely defunct; following WWII, the economic centre of gravity has moved to Flanders.
Brussels is a hub for EU and other international institutions, and consequently also is a popular location of for the HQs of multinational companies.
The country exports more than two-thirds of its GDP. Around 80% of its foreign trade is with other EU countries.
|Interest rate|| |
|Fleet Maturity Index (scaling)|| |
|Political key info|| |
Belgium is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary system, and a federal structure, with large powers devolved to the country’s regions and communities.
At federal level, there is a Belgian government, and a bicameral Belgian parliament.
There are three (territorial) regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. There are three (language-based) communities: the Dutch-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking community.
The Flemish region and Dutch-speaking community are fused, and administered by the Flemish government and parliament.
Following federal elections on 26 May 2019, the centre-right coalition government led by prime minister Charles Michel, a French-speaking Liberal, is continuing in a caretaker role until a new government is formed.
The federal government is competent for income taxes and VAT, as well as for federal institutions such as the Belgian National Railway (NMBS/SNCB), and policing and some elements of traffic law.
Regional governments are responsible for such aspects as road and vehicle registration taxes as well as road safety and most of traffic law, as well as public transportation and mobility infrastructure (except for trains).
1.4% (June 2019)
Source: Trading Economics
|Total Car park|| |
Total number of passenger cars in use:
Total number of passenger cars (2017):
Number of LCVs in use (2017):
|New vehicle registrations (Cars, LCV, Trucks)|| |
2014: 600,102 vehicles (total)
2015: 632,358 vehicles (total)
2016: 683,736 vehicles (total)
2017: 707,369 vehicles (total)
2018: 720,594 vehicles (total)
|Top 5 brands (total market)|| |
|Model preference top 5 (total market)|| |
Most popular car models by number of registrations in Q1 2019
|Used car market/renewal cycle|| |
Registration of used vehicles
|Total Fleet Park (company cars)/Fleet penetration in total fleet sales|| |
App. 1.2 Million vehicles (2018)
In all, company cars make up around 20% of the total car fleet in Belgium. This share is much lower than their share in total sales, because company cars are replaced faster than private ones.
Company cars are especially popular in Flanders and Brussels – both regions together make up 85% of the Belgian total.
Source: De Standaard / FEBIAC
|Evolution fleet sales (last 5 years)|| |
Registrations of new company cars
Despite slower growth than in previous years – only by around a thousand units, less than half a percentage point – last year's figure still was an all-time record. Company cars still represented more than 50% of the annual total in new-car sales.
Source: De Standaard / FEBIAC
|Top 5 fleet brands (fleet market)|| |
In the first half of 2019, corporate fleets in Belgium registered 156,092 new vehicles, 2.14% more than in the same period last year.
According to data provided by JATO Dynamics, the most popular brands in Belgium's corporate sector during H1 2019 were:
Despite significant losses, BMW remains the biggest brand on Belgium's corporate market, but Renault is edging closer to the top spot. The French brand was the biggest winner in absolute terms, registering 1,257 more units for corporate use than in the first six months of last year.
The biggest winner in relative terms was Tesla, which gained 223.6%, for an absolute figure of 1,453 units – thanks mainly to its popular Model 3. Other brands making strong gains are Dacia (+41.4% to 3,292 units) and Seat (+33.4% to 2,628 units).
The biggest loser in both absolute and relative terms was Nissan, which dropped 2,354 units (-44.4%) versus H1 2018. Other brands with significant losses are Alfa Romeo (-29.7% to 588 units), Porsche (-28.6% to 848 units), Land Rover (-23.9% to 1,803 units) and Jaguar (-22.2% to 1,092 units).
|Fleet Model preference top 5 (fleet market)|| |
Most popular lease car models (2018)
Get the complete analysis about taxation and legislation in the Fleet Europe Taxation Guide, developed in collaboration with PWC. Click here for more info4.1 Car registration
Car registrations in Belgium are personal, a change of licence plate (reregistration) is necessary when a car changes registrar. One can reuse a licence plate for a next vehicle registration.
In order to register a car, the registrar (private or moral person) needs to be a Belgian resident.
Registration is not valid as proof of ownership of the vehicle.
A licence plate comes with a 2-fold certificate of registration, one to be kept in the car and one at home, both of them are required in order to sell the vehicle.
Car manufacturers will provide a document with a new vehicle, to be completed by the insurance company and the licence plate holder to be, which is then sent to the DIV (Federal service for Mobility) who will deliver the licence plate and the 2-fold certificate of registration the next day by postal service.
Operational leasing companies will typically register a vehicle on their own name, financial leasing companies have lessees take care of registration themselves.
New passenger cars do not need to pass technical inspection for the first 4 years (except when a towing bar is installed), after which it is required every 2 years. Commercial vehicles need to pass technical inspection every year. If they are used for remunarated transport of persons (taxi, bus,…) they need to undergo inspection every 6 months.
Personalised licence plates (at least 1, at most 8 positions) are possible for a one-off extra cost of 1.000 EUR.
Delivery of a new licence plate costs 30 EUR.
A one-off car registration tax is applicable on all passenger cars. LCVs and trucks are excempt from this tax. The tax differs by Region.
For private persons and companies based in Wallonia or Brussels and for leasing and rental companies based in any region, the tax is calculated on the horsepower, cylinder capacity and the vehicle's age, ranging between a minimum of €61.50 to a maximum of €4,957.
For physical persons, not companies, in Wallonia, an "ecomalus" is added for cars emitting more than 146 g of CO2. The supplementary amount to be paid on top of the car registration tax varies between €100 and €2,500.
In Flanders the registration tax is based on environmental criteria (mainly CO2), fuel type and age of the vehicle, ranging between a minimum of €0 to a maximum of €10,7184.108.40.206 Motor vehicle tax
A yearly road tax is applicable to all cars and LCVs. For private persons and companies based in Wallonia or Brussels and for leasing and rental companies based in any region, the tax is calculated on the horsepower, cylinder capacity of the vehicle.
In Flanders this registration tax is based on environmental criteria.
Trucks (>3,5T) pay a tax per kilometer on the main roads, a toll charging system, differntiated by the maximum load of the vehicle, is in place, electronically monitored.
Physical persons are subject to the personal income tax which in Belgium is about 50% of the revenue. Self-employed are subject to the personal income tax when they do not have a company.
Companies are subject to a corporate tax of 33.99% of the profit, with exceptions for SMEs and other specific situations. The disallowed expenses on car-related costs are taxed at this percentage.
Employees who use their company car for personal purposes, are taxed for that benefit in kind.
The yearly taxable amount is defined by the fiscal list price of the car (VAT included), its CO2-emissions and its age. The minimum percentage of the list price to be taken into account is 4%, the maximum 18%, with a minimum yearly taxable amount of €1,310. The taxation is usually deducted at the source, by the employer. Self-employed people, who pay for their car with their own means, are not taxed on a benefit in kind for the car they pay themselves.
Every year, the amount resulting for the formula and starting at 100% for a new car, is lowered by 6%, until the car is in its sixt year, when the minimum of 70% of the original list price is reached.
The formula for the Belgian BIK on company cars for 2018:
BIK = Fiscal List Price x (5.5 +0.1 x (CO2-emissions - 86) /100 x 6/7 x age percentage
BIK = Fiscal List Price x (5.5 +0.1 x (CO2-emissions - 105) /100 x 6/7 x age percentage
Minimum percentage 4%, maximum percentage 18%
Minimum for 2018: €1,310.4.5 VAT
A VAT of 21% is applicable on all goods and services related to vehicles, apart from the insurance where a non-deductible insurance tax applies (27%).
The VAT is deductible on professionally used vehicles, up to 100% for LCVs and trucks, limited to an absolute maximum of 50% for pasenger cars if the professional use can be effectively proven to that level, if not a flat VAT deductibility of 35% applies.
Vehicles (and equipment/accessories) are depreciated for their economic lifetime, typically for passenger cars 4-5 years, for LCVs and trucks this may be longer.
Al other costs related to the vehicle use are taken into cost base of the current accounting year.
Vehicles in short or long term rental (operating lease) are not accounted for as assets and the rental costs are taken into the cost base of the current accounting year.
Financial leases are to be depreciated as if it were owend assets. Depreciation is being determined by the economic liftetime, and is usually 4 to 5 years for passenger cars.
Financial Renting (a leasing formula with a 16% or higher residual value), is not depreciated as if it was an owned asset, but is taken into the cost base as is the case for short or long term rental contracts.
A well-structured car policy is an absolute necessity for fleet managers in Belgium, given the fact that more than in other countries, a lot of Belgian employees have benefit cars, that are attributed solely as a means of income, in order for the employers to be able to attract the right profile for the job or evade the high fiscal burden on classic salary. For example, in Belgium almost no IT consultant or financial manager has to do without a company car, even if they don’t really need one for their professional activities. The other category of company vehicles, the so-called tool cars, are meant for sales reps, technical support teams, merchandisers and the like. Most of them also can be used for private purposes, as do the benefit cars.
A company car only forms a part of the salary package if private usage of it is allowed. In that case, the employee is taxed on the benefit in kind the car represents. There are no exact figures on the number of company cars in Belgium that can be used for private purposes, but Belgian car federation Febiac estimates that 90% of leased cars and 50 to 70% of all other cars registered to companies can also be used privately.
The importance of a genuine, elaborate car policy is key. Without it, employers and employees have difficulty determining what to do in case of traffic fines, accidents, function change, resignation or dismissal and so on. Belgian car policies include the rules of engagement relative to the company’s car and LCV fleet. They list and explain the criteria for the attribution of a car, what to do in case of (long) absence, the rules in relation to private and corporate use of the car, the use of a fuel card (is it allowed to fill up during weekends or abroad for example), what to do in case of mechanical breakdown or an accident (call the hotline of the leasing company, not the dealership nor the assistance provided by the carmaker), the choice of brands, models, engine types, accessories and optional equipment, what to do in case of fines and so on.
Legally binding or not?
In what way such a car policy is legally binding for the employee? The car policy can be a part of the employment contract. That is the case when the employer asks the employee to sign it or when it is referred to in the contract. In that case, the only way to modify it is by mutual agreement between the parties. On the other hand, it is possible to see the car policy as a single sided document in which the employer instructs the employee with regards to the dos and don’ts. It is perfectly legal for the employer to do so based on his authority as an employer. In this case, the approval of the employee is not required to change the rules of the game.
Even if it is possible to change the rules in the policy (with or without the employees’ consent), the document delivers a certain assurance to both parties and guarantees a clear and consistent treatment of the matter, reducing possible disputes to a minimum
|Overview of penetration of funding methods (buy or lease statement)|
|Type of suppliers (captive versus multibrand, international versus local…)|
|6.1 Outright purchase:|
|Definition||The company buys the vehicle using it's own funding or a bank loan. The ownership is immediate, the owner has to activate the asset and writes it off over time.|
|Pros and cons||Immediate ownership and hassle-free buying are pros, the loss of available working capital and increase in debt are cons, as is the lack of risk-outsourcing.|
|Economic & legal ownership||The company is the legal and economical owner.|
|Business practices||Outright purchase is not common for larger fleets.|
|6.2 Renting (Finance lease):|
A financial leasing agreement whereby the lessor transfers to a lessee for a specific period the right to use a vehicle in exchange for a payment or set of payments. The ultimite goal is buying the lease object.
A finance leasing contract is subject to special legislation that does not necessarily apply to full service leasing.
A finance leasing contract provides an option to buy the vehicle with a maximum of 15% of the capital invested. In that case, the lessee is obligated to depreciate the asset in his books.
A second formula, called financial renting, is basically the same, but uses a purchase option of more than 15% which allows the lessee to keep the asset outside his balance sheet, and allows the montly payments to be simply booked as expenses.
|Pros and cons||The fact that the company's cash reserve remains untouched is a clear pro, the fact that a financial lease (<15% purchase option) increases the company's financial debts is a con, which can be avoided by opting for financial renting (>15% purchase option). Services can be included.|
|Economic & legal ownership||The lessor has the legal property of the object during the lease term. The lessee has the economic ownerhip.|
|Business practices||Financial Renting and Leasing are often used by SME owners who tend to acquire the asset after the leasing period.|
|6.3 Full service leasing (operational leasing)|
A full service leasing agreement is a funding method for the use of a vehicle for a certain period. That period does not have to match the economic life of the car. The lessor carries the economic and operational risk (residual value, maintenance and repairs...). The lessee has no purchase option at the end of the contract.
In general the leasing company provides additional services such as maintenance, repairs, replacement car, roadside assistance and insurance...
|Pros and cons||Total outsourcing makes it easy to estimate TCO and avoid risks. Given the fact that Full service leasing is off-balance, it has no impact on the financial parametres of the company. A con is the fact that there is no purchase option and that the formula often seems to be expensive, because of the services included.|
|Economic & legal ownership||The lessor has the legal and economic ownership of the vehicle.|
|Business practices||Full service leasing is the youngest but now the most successful funding method for companies in Belgium. It became increasingly popular in the 1980s.|
|6.4 Fleet Management|
|Definition||The externalisation of the management of a company car fleet. Providers such as Fleet Logistics, ERCG and Dragintra offer this service in Belgium. Belgium also has fleet management software providers such as XPOFleet and Chevin Fleet Solutions.|
|Pros and cons||Pro: no own personnel needed, a specialist approach Con: extra cost for the company|
|Economic & legal ownership||see funding methods|
|Business practices||External Fleet Management is only used for large car fleets in Belgium.|
|6.5 Short term rental|
Traditionally, short term rental means the rental of cars or other vehicles for a period of one day to a maximum of one year.
It is usually an all-in formula that includes the assistance, maintenance and tyre wear, the mandatory liability insurance.
Contracts shorter than 1 month usually include an unlimited mileage.
|Pros and cons||The flexibility and rapidness of the solution are pros, the cost is a con.|
|Economic & legal ownership||The rental company is the legal and economic owner of the vehicle.|
|Business practices||Mostly used for temporary replacement in case of maintenance and repair or breakdown, or awaiting the delivery of a newly ordered vehicle.|
|6.6 Other funding methods|
Market share by fuel type evolution
- Petrol: 173,228 (35.9%)
- Diesel: 299,182 (62.0%)
- Hybrid: 8,310 (1.7%)
- Electric: 1,166 (0.2%)
- Petrol: 189,254 (37.8%)
- Diesel: 300,322 (59.9%)
- Hybrid: 9,357 (1.9%)
- Electric: 1,360 (0.3%)
- Petrol: 239,319 (44.4%)
- Diesel: 279,425 (51.8%)
- Hybrid: 16,430 (3.0%)
- Electric: 2,055 (0.4%)
- Petrol: 263,693 (48.2%)
- Diesel: 253,322 (46.3%)
- Hybrid: 24,157 (4.4%)
- Electric: 2,709 (0.5%)
- Petrol: 321,886 (58.6%)
- Diesel: 195,070 (35.5%)
- Hybrid: 24,871 (4.5%)
- Electric: 3,640 (0.7%)
Back in 1991, petrol represented 69% of the market, versus only 31% for diesel. The market share for petrol declined year after year while diesel gained ground, until by 2008, petrol represented no more than 21% and diesel 79%. Since then, dieselgate and anti-diesel measures have reversed the trend. Since last year, and for the first time since 1997, petrol again commands more than half the market.
Hybrids have been on the Belgian market since 2005, full-electrics since 2010. They’ve been on a slow but steady growth trajectory, from a combined market share of 1.9% in 2014 to 5.2% in 2018.
A remarkable difference between the private and corporate markets: in 2018, only 17.4% of private customers acquired a diesel car. Yet on the corporate market, diesels are still in the majority, with 52.4%.
Alternate fuels were also more popular among corporate buyers: 7.4% vs. 4.3% on the private market.
Fuel price evolution
Petrol (Euro Super 95):
- 2012: 1.7076
- 2013: 1.6508
- 2014: 1.5956
- 2015: 1.4296
- 2016: 1.3371
- 2017: 1.4046
- 2018: 1.4694
- 2019: 1.4507
- 2012: 1.5318
- 2013: 1.4758
- 2014: 1.4154
- 2015: 1.2236
- 2016: 1.1871
- 2017: 1.3277
- 2018: 1.5037
- 2019: 1.5229
- 2012: 0.7183
- 2013: 0.6719
- 2014: 0.5960
- 2015: 0.4532
- 2016: 0.4105
- 2017: 0.4907
- 2018: 0.5484
- 2019: 0.5213
Current fuel prices (2 July 2019)
- Petrol (unleaded 95): €1,480
- Diesel: €1,507
- LPG: €0,491
Source: Fuel Prices Europe
Additional source: Statbel
Number of fuel stations on 1 January:
- 2010: 3,258
- 2011: 3,209
- 2012: 3,175
- 2013: 3,158
- 2014: 3,178
- 2015: 3,060
- 2016: 3,109
- 2017: 3,122
Fuel card solutions
Multibrand providers such as Network Fuel Card and Fleetpass as well as almost all fuel companies and even mobility service and assistance providers such as VAB and Touring provide fuel cards to Belgian (fleet) customers.
The Total Cost of Ownership for Belgian fleet vehicles consists of the usual elements. Below are some clarifications specific to the Belgian situation.
• monthly financing
• interest cost
• road tax
• registration tax
• maintenance and repairs
• roadside assistance
• insurance and all risk cover
• fuel (1)
• non-deductible VAT (in relation to the professional use) (2)
• taxation on disallowed expenses (3)
• taxation on 17% or 40% or the BIK (4)
• solidarity contribution (CO2 based) (5)
• fleet management costs
• car parking, car wash, ...
(1) The deductibility of the fuel cost is fixed at 75% for 2018 and 2019. From 2020 onwards, the deduction will be equal to the general deductibility of the car, depending on the CO2-emissions.
(2) Of the 21% of VAT paid, a maximum of 50% can be deducted, see Chapter VAT
(3) The deductibility of car costs is determined by the CO2-emissions of the vehicle, with a minimum of 50% and a maximum of 100% (and 120% for zero-emission vehicles). The percentages remain unchanged for 2018 and 2019 but will be changed from 2020 onwards.
(4) Employers have to add a percentage of the employees' BIK to the disallowed expenses for the vehicle. When the employee has to pay for his own fuel, the percentage is 17%, when the employer pays the fuel, 40% of the yearly BIK has to be added to the disallowed expenses.
(5) For company cars that can be used by employees for private purposes, the employer has to pay a contribution to Belgian social security, depending on the CO2-emissions of the vehicle. This amount varies but can never be lower than €26.47 monthly (2018).
Belgium has a high population density, and a high degree of ribbon development (urban sprawl). As a result, it is very difficult to separate traffic flow from residential areas. This leads to a high inherent risk of accidents. The relatively low rate of repair and maintenance of Belgian public road infrastructure adds to Belgium’s high accident rate.
In 2018, there were 52 road fatalities per million inhabitants in Belgium, a 30% improvement compared to 2010, but still (slightly) above the EU average of 49.
Source: European Commission
In absolute figures, there were 440 road deaths in Belgium in 2018. That’s 35 less than in 2017 (or -7%), and a bit more than half the number in 2008. It’s also the lowest number ever recorded.
However, that figure does not include victims who die of their injuries within 30 days of the accident. With those included, the number of road fatalities rises to 590, versus 615 in 2017.
Despite the drop in fatalities, both the number of injured and the number of accidents itself has increased.
Also, the number of cyclists, motorcyclists and senior citizens killed in traffic increased.
Suggested remedies include more effective fines (especially for speeding and DUI) and better cycling infrastructure. Also, and mainly in Flanders, an ever-growing network of trajectory controlled portions of roads is deployed.
In 2011, Belgium set itself a target of maximum of 420 road fatalities by 2020. If one includes victims expiring within one month of the accident, that target seems very remote indeed.
Source: VRT Nieuws
The Belgian speed limits are as follows:
- 50 km/h (31 mph) within built-up areas;
- 70 km/h (43 mph) outside built-up areas in the Flemish region;
- 90 km/h (56 mph) outside built-up areas in the Wallonia region and the Brussels Capital region;
- 120 km/h (75 mph) on roads with at least two two-lane roadways separated by a median, and on freeways.
Third-party Liability (TPL)
Every vehicle in traffic must be insured for TPL (in French: responsabilité civile; in Dutch: burgerlijke aansprakelijkheid). TPL must cover any (material of physical) damage to third parties by the driver who is responsible for the accident. As proof of TPL insurance, a Green Card is provided which must be kept in the car and presented to the authorities upon request.
As in most other European countries, a no-claims bonus is the norm; meaning that anyone who has a previous no-claim record can use it to get a lower insurance premium.
It is standard practice in Belgian car insurance to cover the car, not the driver. Consequently, anyone with a valid driver’s licence can drive an insured car and have the policy apply in case of accident. However, occasional drivers will only be insured for injuries sustained while driving if they have taken out additional insurance. That’s why it’s common, and fairly standard in corporate mobility, to take out additional insurance for the driver.
Fully comprehensive or part coverage
Although not legally obliged to do so, most new-car owners opt for fully comprehensive coverage. This provides for most eventualities, including vandalism, fire, theft or collision damage; and this for at least to to four years.
Another option is Part Comprehensive cover, which usually covers fire, theft and windscreen damage. Of course, this is more economical in terms of the yearly premium.
Within the Fully Comprehensive Coverage, there usually is an excess payable by the insured for each claim, varying with the value of the car and the commercial specificiations of the insurance contract.
In case of an accident, the respective parties will have to fill in an accident report form, that must also be kept in the car.
Belgium is one of the more advanced countries in Europe when it comes to adoption of telematics solutions in large fleets. Below are two examples.
VAB is not just Belgium’s largest breakdown assistance provider, but also one of the country’s most intense users of telematics technology.
Its 830 replacement vehicles are fitted with a telematics system that does much more than just enablee VAB to locate the vehicles and provide alerts and data for reports.
Telematics also helps VAB:
- Detect crashes,
- Report bad drivers
- Retrieve lost vehicles
- Optimise the geographic spread of replacement cars
- Provide odometer data, helping to optimise residual values and maintenance schedules
- Check availability and schedule cleaning
- And last but not least, predict imminent breakdowns (and prevent them via maintenance)
Source: Fleet Europe
Bpost, the Belgian postal service, has adopted a telematics solution from MiX Telematics, for use in more than 1,000 vehicles.
For Bpost, MiX offers flexibility and interoperability with existing systems, as well as the potential to track other assets in future.
Source: Fleet Europe
Trends in taxation, legislation and city restrictions (CO2, diesel… )
In 2017, Antwerp was the first Belgian city to instate a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in its city centre. In 2018, Brussels followed. Ghent has announced it will instate an LEZ in 2020. Aiming to improve the air quality in the respective cities, the most polluting cars are banned from these LEZs.
As is the case in most other European countries, the Belgian government now aims to discourage the purchase of diesel cars, by reducing fiscal incentives and instating fiscal disincentives.
After many years of price advantage for diesel, the price of diesel and petrol converged for the first time in 2018.
In 2012, diesel cars represented 68.9% of Belgian car registrations. That figure dropped to 51.8% in 2016 and 35.5% in 2018.
In 2012, petrol cars represented 29.9% of Belgian car registrations. That figure rose to 44.4% in 2016 and 58.6% in 2018.
2017 was the first year in which more petrol than diesel cars were registered.
Nevertheless, due to its lower TCO for higher mileages, diesel remains the powertrain of choice for many with a relatively high mileage (>25,000 p.a.), including many corporate fleets.
In 2018, only 17.4% of private customers acquired a diesel car. Yet on the corporate market, diesels are still in the majority, with 52.4%.
(See also CHAPTER 7: FUEL)
- In 1990, Belgium emitted 115.8 metric tons (Mt) of CO2.
- In 2005, the country emitted 118.7 Mt of CO2.
- In 2017, it emitted 104.2 Mt of CO2. That’s 0.28% of the global total, 10.1% below the figure for 1990 (the reference year for the Kyoto Protocol), and 9.1 tons per capita per year.
- In 2016, the Belgian average CO2 emission of newly sold cars was 115.9 grams/kilometre.
- This is slightly better than the European average of 118.5 grams/kilometre.
Green vehicles (new powertrains)
New registrations 2016-2017
- In 2017, 2713 fully electric cars were registered in Belgium. That is less than half a per cent of total Belgian car sales but 32% over the 2016 figure (2055 cars).
- Hybrids are much more popular, with 24.157 registrations in 2017 (23.357 petrol hybrids and 800 diesel hybrids) or two thirds more than in 2016.
New registrations 2018-2019
- In Q1 2018, 3981 electrically chargeable vehicles were registered in Belgium.
- In Q1 2019, 4318 electrically chargeable vehicles were registered in Belgium, an increase of 8.5% over the same quarter last year.
(ECVs, includes both battery-electric vehicles or BEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or PHEVs).
Source: Best-selling cars
Total figures 2018
On 1 August 2018, there were 5.85 million passenger cars in Belgium, +1.2% compared to a year earlier. Fastest growing segments:
- BEVs: 9,244 (+41.1%)
- PHEVs: 81,107 (+39%)
Taking on board not just cars but also mopeds, buses, LCVs and other types of vehicles, the number of BEVs in Belgium on 1 August 2018 stood at 13,514 units – just 0.2% of the 7.53-million total.
The PHEV figure quoted above – a fourfold increase since 2014 – applies only to petrol-electric hybrids (which represent 1.39% of the overall total). There are also 5,905 diesel-electric hybrid cars on Belgian roads (+9.8%).
The prevalence of company cars on Belgium’s increasingly congested and polluted roads is being contested, in public opinion and recently also by governmental measures. The two most notable ones are ‘Cash for Car’ and the mobility budget
In January 2018, the Belgian government introduced a ‘Cash for Car’ measure, allowing employees to exchange their company car for a cash payment.
The presumed incentive was that the cash payment would be taxed at the same rate as the company car, which is more advantageous than paying the same amount as higher wages – this is the reason why company cars are so popular in Belgium. The average cash payment under the ‘cash for car’ measure was calculated as €525 (gross) per month.
However, more than a year after the introduction of ‘Cash for Car’, SD Worx, the payroll service provider for one in three privately-employed Belgians, counted no more than 142 employees who had opted for the formula.
In April 2019, Belgium was the first country in Europe to adopt a legal framework for mobility budgets.
Under the new rule, company cars can be replaced by a greener, broader range of mobility alternatives.
• Employers may offer a mobility budget to their employees with company cars. Employee participation is voluntary.
• If they do participate, employees get an annual mobility budget equivalent to the annual cost of their company car.
• They may spend that budget on any or all of three pillars: a replacement car, mobility alternatives, and a cash payment.
• The replacement car must be ‘green’, i.e. electric or with a CO2 emission no higher than 105 g/km (100 g/km in 2020 and 95 g/km from 2021).
• The mobility alternatives include:
o the purchase, rent or leasing (plus maintenance) of bicycles, e-bikes, mopeds, electric motorbikes and assorted equipment;
o subscriptions to public transport (and public parking) and shared mobility (including carpooling, car sharing, bike sharing, taxis, chauffeur-driven cars); and
o car rental (for up to 30 days a year).
o This second pillar can also include corporate bikes and even
o the option of financing the rent or mortgage of a house within 5 km of work (as the crow flies).
• Whatever budget is left (if any) will be paid out in cash. This balance is subject to a special tax of 38.07%.
But the mobility budget too has yet to make a dent in Belgium’s abysmal track record on mobility.
Belgium ranks 27th out of 28 EU countries when it comes to time spent in road congestion (only the UK does worse). Belgians lose more than an entire working week in congestion each year; more than one in seven Belgian motorists feel stressed behind the wheel.
Transport currently produces nearly 25% of Belgium’s CO2 emissions and has measurably detrimental effects on public health. Belgium is not fulfilling EU requirements for air quality, especially when it comes to NO2, which is caused mainly by transport, and is the cause of nearly a quarter of all childhood asthma cases in Belgium – one of the highest figures in the world.
The bad state of mobility and transport in Belgium stands in stark contrast to the sector’s huge economic importance: €147 billion, or one-third of GDP. In short, mobility in Belgium is big, but it has to change.
Deloitte sees five major shifts disrupting mobility in Belgium:
1. from car-centricity to user-centricity.
The car is the second-most expensive item most Belgians buy, yet it sits idle for 96% of the time. One in three users of ride-hailing services now question the need to own a car.
2. from personally owned to shared.
By 2030, 31% of all mileage driven in Belgium will be shared, Deloitte expects.
3. from single mode to multi-mode.
One in five Belgians already travels to work in a multi-modal way at least once a week.
4. from physical to digital mobility.
In 2030, when 40% of Belgians will be ‘digital natives’, about 100% of all vehicles will be connected.
5. from fossil fuels to alternative fuels.
By 2030, nearly 20% of all passenger cars in Belgium will be electric.
In a special paper, Deloitte proposes a New Deal for Mobility in Belgium, to accelerate the transition to sustainable models for mobility, via three pillars:
making the alternatives to the car more attractive. For example by building and promoting multi-modal hubs, MaaS and cycling.
driving a change in mobility behaviour. By reforming the mobility fiscal framework and raising awareness of different transport options.
enabling green transportation. Initiatives like the Low Emission Zone in Antwerp (introduced 2017), Brussels (introduced 2018) and Ghent (announced for 2020) are a good start.
In order for the New Deal to have a chance at succeeding, multiple partners need to contribute:
The Belgian government(s) must invest in a multi-modal transport network and incentivise a shift in mobility behaviour.
Mobility providers must collaborate with both public and private partners to enable integrated journeys from A to B.
Business leaders must provide employees with different mobility options beyond the company car.
Citizens must challenge the car as their default transport option.
When asked for the biggest challenges in the short and medium term, Belgian fleet managers replied the main topic was the shift from diesel, to either hybrid or petrol, followed by taxation changes and the implications of the mobility budget.
1. Increase in hybrid cars: 51%
2. Tax changes: 51%
3. Mobility budget: 47%
4. Increase in petrol cars: 39%
5. ‘Cash for car’ – swapping company car for more take-home pay: 31%
6. Mileage tax on private cars: 29%
Source: Fleet Profile, September 2017