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WLTP brings potential diesel whole-life cost rise

September’s introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) could bring increased fleet whole-life costs for diesel cars due to reduced service intervals.

WLTP testing

According to Fleet Assist, diesel service intervals are typically being reduced by 2,000-5,000 miles as a result of the introduction of the RDE test alongside the WLTP lab test

Analysis by Fleet Assist found on a typical three-year/60,000-mile or four-year/80,000-mile contract, a diesel car was likely to require one additional service, thereby potentially pushing up SMR spend and overall whole-life costs.

The firm said that typically service intervals were being reduced by 2,000-5,000 miles, but it had seen a service interval reduction of 8,000 miles on some models.

Fleet Assist, whose 5,000+ franchise and independent service outlets undertake SMR work on collectively more than one million vehicles for leasing/rental firms in the UK, said the more rigorous servicing was due to the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test, which results in increased strain on a vehicle’s engine. That increased strain and subsequent reduced oil life has resulted in a cut in the maximum oil change interval – an issue that will impact diesel vans too.

The firm added that petrol-engined cars were not similarly affected as they use different after treatment systems.

Chris Crow, head of network and technical services, Fleet Assist, said: “Manufacturers are adopting different strategies with regards to vehicle service intervals post-WLTP regulation testing and that information is gradually bring provided to us.

“Nevertheless, a clear general trend is emerging and that is that some diesel cars – as well as vans as they become subject to WLTP testing – look as though they will require more frequent servicing typically due to greater oil use. That will inevitably impact on fleet servicing costs and trigger a rise in vehicle whole-life costs.

“Given the variability of service intervals across vehicle manufacturers and the influence of condition-based servicing, it is yet another issue that fleet decision-makers and maintenance managers in contract hire and leasing companies must feed into the WLTP-influenced decision-making process when selecting new vehicles.”

The firm also said it had seen an surge in service work in recent months, likely due to customers extending existing contracts rather than taking out new ones as a result of WLTP.

Managing director Vincent St Claire said: “Leaving aside the overall rise in the number of customers’ company cars and vans now using our nationwide network of service outlets, we believe the increase, given the age and mileage of cars, is due to vehicles requiring an additional service as fleets extend replacement cycles due to delays in obtaining new cars caused by WLTP introduction.”

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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.