On the mobility budget for company car users

Date: 23 November 2016

Venue: University of Antwerp, Promotiezaal Grauwzusters - Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 5:00 PM

PhD candidate: Toon Zijlstra

Principal investigator: Prof. A. Verhetsel

Co-principal investigator: Prof T. Vanoutrive

Short description: PhD defence Toon Zijlstra - Faculty of Applied Economics


The mobility budget (MB) has gained much positive attention in Flanders in less than a decade. The concept is targeted at company car (CC) users. They receive a virtual budget instead of their car and fuel card. The budget can be used to select transport modes and services for their needs; one of these options is the CC. Any remaining budget is converted to an end-of-year bonus: an incentive to choose wisely. From a theoretical perspective the concept addresses the principal-agent problem, which is in turn related to adverse selection and moral hazard. Many actors in the public and private sector embrace the MB as a solution to the ‘congestion evil’ in Belgium. In this dissertation a stepwise assessment is used to scrutinise the concept itself and its potential. The assessment starts at the design of the concept, and then moves on to implementation by employers, participations by employees and their choice behaviour within the budget.

The main method is a questionnaire with a mixture-amount choice experiment for CC users. Employers were approached with a request to co-operate in the research project and to provide access to candidates: CC owners within the company. The final response rate (39%) and the number of respondents in the final sample is excellent (n=817). Some of the models in this dissertation use additional data, like the Belgian travel survey. Next to the survey a discourse analysis was conducted with key documents by central actors in the debate and news items in the corpus (n=53). The goal of this analysis was to scrutinize the concept of the MB and its appealing features. Some of the most important outcomes of this discourse analysis are already mentioned above.

This thesis concludes that the MB relies heavily on self-control of the individual employee. Its contribution to the transport policy objectives is small. The explanation for this is the combination of a relative small target group, modest implementation rates by employers, low participation rates by employees, and the private car as primary alternative to the CC. In line with this outcome, it is suggested that the MB concept struggles to offer real alternatives in an automobile dependent society. Furthermore, the MB allows a reframing of the origins of CC related problems from under-taxation to a rigid administrative system.

Link: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/rg/transport-and-regional-economics/