By Martin Brown, managing director, Fleet Alliance
Fleet operators should stop automatically selecting diesel vehicles as their fuel of first choice and start thinking more of viable alternatives such as the latest-generation, ultra-efficient petrol engines and even electric hybrids, which are starting to make sound economic sense.
Diesel car sales have grown exponentially in the past decade to the extent that, at 50.6% of the overall UK market, they overtook petrol sales for the first time last year, and are higher still in the fleet market at 61.33%, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
However, there are several reasons why we think that diesel’s dominance could soon be on the wane.
The first of these is the latest health scare associated with diesel emissions.
According to the World Health Organisation, diesel engine exhaust fumes cause cancer and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas.
And research has shown that regular exposure to diesel fumes is as likely to cause cancer as passive smoking.
At the same time, the latest crop of petrol engines to hit the market is cleaner, ultra-efficient and offers CO2 emissions at least as low as diesel equivalents.
For example, the petrol Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost 125PS returns 57mpg, yet offers lots of low-down overtaking power. And it offers lower company car tax than the diesel.
Meanwhile, the current generation of hybrid cars offers a real economic alternative to diesels and also has the ability to reduce company car tax bills.
We recently produced a White Paper looking at the advantages hybrids can bring to fleet operators.
As an example, the Toyota Prius T3 costs £21,600, has CO2 emissions of 89g/km and is in the 10% company car tax band. By comparison, a £20,045 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCI Titanium 115PS emits 109g/km and sits in a 15% band.
For the current tax year, the Prius will cost a 20% taxpayer £431 while a 40% taxpayer will pay £862.
The Focus driver will pay £600 and £1,199 – an increase of £169 and £337 respectively.
Time for change? We certainly think that for diesel power the writing could be on the wall.