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Too early to discard diesels, says Fleet Logistics

An optimum fleet policy should include the latest cleaner diesels, which still have a role to play as the workhorses of the fleet.

Sue Branston, country head for Fleet Logistics UK and Ireland

So says Fleet Logistics UK and Ireland as it points to concerns over rising CO2 levels from transport due to a big swing to petrol and a marked decline in sales of diesel cars.

2018 data for UK registrations shows the move away from diesels has had a significant impact on the UK new car fleet average CO2, which rose for the second year running with a 2.9% increase to 124.5g/km. In a statement, the association said the downturn in CO2 as a result of diesel efficiencies – diesels are, on average, 15-20% more efficient than petrol equivalents – was being undermined by the shift to petrol and disappointing take-up of AFVs.

As such, Fleet Logistics is urging fleets to consider models from the growing number of RDE2-compliant diesel cars for their fleet policy lists – with such vehicles not only bringing reductions in CO2 and NOx but also offering fuel consumption benefits for high-mileage drivers.

Sue Branston, country head for Fleet Logistics UK and Ireland, added: “Not only are they often the best long-range option in many fleet situations, but the new generation of RDE2 diesels also bring a reduction in Benefit-in-Kind taxation as they do not attract the customary 4% diesel surcharge and offer lower Vehicle Excise Duty rates.

“It is always sound fleet management practice to compare, from a driver’s perspective, figures for any diesels with alternative powertrains and is something we advise for all our clients.

“However, there are now growing numbers of RDE2-compliant diesel cars from major motor manufacturers, including Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover, with more to come this summer from makers such as Vauxhall, Volvo and BMW.

“While the numbers are still low at the moment, fleet operators should certainly take them into consideration for their next fleet replacement cycle,  as well as looking at alternative powertrains.”

Branston continued that ultimately, powertrain decisions will boil down to the outcome of the pending WLTP review by the government and future taxation strategy and its impact on Total Cost of Ownership and driver Benefit-in-Kind tax.

But Branston added: “We are advising our clients not to write off diesel just yet. Undoubtedly the future will be electric, and EVs and hybrids need to play a role in any right-thinking fleet policy, but sounding the death knell for diesel may just be premature.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.