Fleet News

Fleets still slow to make switch to alternative fuels

FLEET managers have shunned alternative fuels, despite their environmental and financial benefits, and have even refused to consider the alternatives in many cases. A review of fleet managers showed that 73% of fleets had not yet looked into the attractiveness of alternatives to petrol or diesel.

Those which did tended to focus primarily on liquefied petroleum gas, which is considered the closest alternative to petrol, offering only a slight drop in economy and requiring the same amount of storage space as a spare tyre.

Hybrid petrol/electric cars such as the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, which will reach Britain's roads this year, caught the attention of a third of those interested in alternatives, while electric energy and compressed natural gas interested 11% and 10%.

More encouragingly, nearly a third of fleet managers claim it is very likely or quite likely they will use alternative fuels in the next two years, although they did not reveal what proportion of their fleet they intended to change.

Another cause of fleets reluctance to adopt alternatives could be the focus of debate on the future balance of petrol and diesel in the company car market. Diesel made up 9% of fleets in 1990, but its popularity grew to 23% by 1994. However, since then its use in fleets has steadily declined, with 14% of sales to fleets made up of diesels. Overall, 39% of company cars are oil burners, with fleets of 1-9 and over 75 vehicles having more than average.

The report said: 'The number of diesel cars has fallen as the price of diesel has risen to that of petrol. With unclear environmental messages about diesel, it has fallen in popularity. Diesel fares better among higher mileage company car drivers than it does among private drivers.'

Furthermore, with the new benefit in kind tax regime from 2002 based on CO2 emissions and with diesel cars being among the lowest emitters of the greenhouse gas, there could be renewed demand for diesels, despite a potential 3% 'supplement' the Government plans to impose.

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