Fleet News

Fuel crisis puts alternatives in the spotlight at alternative fuelled vehicle show

WITH the fuel crisis fresh in their minds, hundreds of fleet managers grabbed the opportunity to test drive the latest models at this year's two-day Drive 2000. Organisers of the diesel and alternative fuel show, held at the Heritage Centre, Gaydon, could not have chosen a better week to hold the show if they had tried after the nation almost ground to a halt amid the fuel crisis.

Developments in alternative fuels have exceeded the expectations of many, according to head of transport at Powershift, Jonathan Murray. Murray expressed his amazement at this year's annual two-day diesel and alternative fuel show Drive 2000.

He said: 'Liquefied petroleum gas is taking off, we have petrol-electric vehicles, compressed natural gas vehicles and there are even trials with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which shows how far things have come since the Energy Saving Trust was formed four years ago.

'At that time we excluded hydrogen fuel cells from our studies, because we did not see it as a viable option and did not see that would be this soon into the future. Our view has now completely changed. We never expected hydrogen fuel cells to play a part yet.'

He added that fleet managers were also becoming more aware about how alternative fuels could play a role within their set-up:'They are starting to realise that different alternative fuels are more suitable for different operations. For example, if you drive a van or a car, then the best fuel to go for would be LPG, whereas lorries are more effectively run on CNG.

'The majority of people who are going forward with conversions are fleet managers and without a doubt, they are leading the way. But I am sure a large number of the enquiries received were from the public.

'People were passing filling stations and seeing signs saying LPG only and that it costs 40p a litre. That has made people think: 'what is this fuel? I would like to find out more about it' and have called us.'

The show marked the first time that fleet managers could test drive the Toyota Prius, and the new petrol-electric car was well received.

Fleet representatives from other manufacturers added they had noticed an increase in interest for alternative fuels from clients over the last 12 months.

Louise Brown, regional fleet sales manager for Peugeot, said fleet managers were becoming more aware of what was on offer to them:

'I am noticing a change in people's opinions of alternative fuels. When LPG was first launched, people seemed to be more inclined to choose that when they thought about alternative fuels. But since the introduction of HDi, people can now see diesel as a 'green' fuel.'

  • Fleet managers interested in contacting Powershift can find a link to the Powershift website in the Buyers Guide under Associations and official bodies.

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