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Don’t default to diesel, fleets told

Fleets are being urged to rethink their vehicle selection strategies as a new white paper says there is no definitive right fleet fuel anymore.

New cars parked in car park

PVS says there is ‘no one size fits all’ solution for fleet fuel choices and companies need to look at vehicle whole-life costs.

Puddy Vehicle Solutions (PVS) founder Marcus Puddy argues that although the trend is to move towards more plug-in technology, in particular following the recent publication of the Government’s consultation document on measures to improve air quality, there is no definitive right fleet fuel at present.

He added that while diesel, petrol, pure electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars all have their merits there are also drawbacks, financial and operational, that have to be taken account when determining a fleet policy, as set out in the white paper.

Puddy also maintained that diesel was likely to remain the preferred choice for high-mileage motorway driving and where a large number of journeys were made in non-urban environments. Alternatively a mix of motorway and urban driving was likely to lend itself to the petrol option.

Puddy said: “There are many pros and cons for fleets regarding all vehicle fuel types. Ultimately it comes down to vehicle whole-life costs based on the type of journeys company cars will be undertaking.”

His comments come as other fleet industry stakeholders call for a balanced approach to fleet policies on fuel types.

Jim McNally, head of remarketing & logistics at Alphabet, has highlighted how, contrary to public and even some political misconceptions, over the past few years company car drivers have actually led the way on EVs and low emission vehicles, far outperforming the retail space and private buyers when it comes to EV adoption.

As an example, Alphabet points to some of its large fleet customers where the percentage of EV and hybrid is as high as 40 or 50%, as well as some smaller all hybrid or EV fleets.

McNally added: “But we need to keep a sense of perspective and reality too. We need to be clear with Government, fleets and company car drivers that there are still a set of circumstances and usage patterns – especially extra-urban, high annual mileage drivers – where modern, diesel vehicles featuring the latest EU6 technology are still a cost efficient and environmentally responsible choice. Hybrids that are taken but rarely plugged in are bad for both the environment and the company balance sheet.”

The fleet industry’s vital role in driving ULEV take-up has also been underscored by Grosvenor Leasing, which has said that ‘diesel hysteria’ is unhealthy and could impact on RVs. Instead CEO Shaun Barritt has urged for the industry to push a positive message of reasons for going greener rather than giving the impressions that diesels need to be taken off our roads as a matter of urgency.

“I would urge the UK Government and the media to push the positive green message rather than focus on this negative campaign of ridiculous hysteria for anyone driving a diesel car, as its very counter-productive and could be very damaging to the fleet sector which is playing a vital role in driving the green agenda.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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