Diesel Drive 1996 was held this week at Rover's Gaydon testing ground against a background of declining diesel sales. In the first eight months of the year, fleet sales are 2.9% down on 1995 levels at 153,315, while the total diesel market is down 10.5% - more than 30,000 units. But most of the major manufacturers turned out to woo fleets with their latest diesel models and visitors we spoke to believed despite the arguments, diesel still has a place on the fleet agenda.
Neil Whittaker, fleet manager at the Abbey National said: 'We will never be all diesel and in fact we are moving the other way. We are on an environmental kick at the moment which is pushing us away from diesels and we now offer no incentives for drivers to choose them. There's no doubt that diesels are cheaper to run but I don't think there's any such thing as a 'green' car. We have 2,100 cars with 30% diesel and I don't think people who have driven diesels will be put off by newspaper stories. Still, there will be a drop in diesels at the Abbey if not a massive one.'