Fleet News

Car makers line up for diesel battle

A BATTLE for diesel business is set to explode in the UK fleet market and across Europe as a string of manufacturers reveal plans to launch new engines - with only Government legislation threatening to stop the impetus. Almost every manufacturer at this week's Frankfurt Motor Show was discussing diesel engine technology, with some companies unveiling new engines and other manufacturers - many for the first time - investing millions of pounds in diesel technology.

However, the manufacturers are divided over which route to take with some - such as Vauxhall and Volkswagen - pursuing direct injection, while others - including traditional diesel market leader PSA - putting their faith in common rail diesel technology. Within five years virtually every vehicle manufacturer will be offering a range of diesel engines - including the Japanese and North American makers, which have traditionally lagged behind European car makers.

The announcements come as diesel sales across continental Europe soar. But, in Britain diesel takes 16% of the total market - down from 22.5% three years ago. In the fleet sector diesel accounts for 20.1% of sales, from 25.4% in 1994. Industry watchers expect the UK market to recover slightly as the diesel choice widens so long as the Government does not penalise diesel cars under pressure from the environmental lobby. Fleet NewsNet understands that senior Government ministers are keen to see diesel penalised in the spring Budget.

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