This year the total could reach 43,000 units and 54,000 units are predicted for next year. With a further 100,000 clean fuel vehicles likely to appear on Britain's roads by 2003 - quadrupling the current number - 2001 has been called 'a watershed year' for the sector. The bonanza claims come in the first Clean Fuel Vehicles Market Report published this week by TransportAction Powershift. Last year, sales of liquefied petroleum gas vehicles totalled 20,576, with 369 electric/hybrid vehicles sold and 69 natural gas vehicles. This year, those figures are expected to increase to 40,556 (LPG), 2,018 (electric/hybrid) - largely due to the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight - and 343 (CNG) and in 2002 reach 50,206 (LPG), 2,220 (electric/hybrid) and 1,395 (CNG).
The predictions are contained in TransportAction PowerShift's third six-monthly survey. TransportAction PowerShift director Jonathan Murray said: 'Last year saw a major breakthrough for clean fuels in the UK. The fuel duty protests, the rapid growth of the LPG refuelling infrastructure and reassurances on residual values all helped boost interest in clean fuels. Add that to the recent Budget commitment to maintain lower duty on gaseous fuels until 2004 and you can expect 2001 to be a watershed year for the market.'
Apart from Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's Budget pledge to freeze duty on gaseous road fuels for three years, Murray believes that carbon dioxide emissions-based reform of company car tax will invigorate the sector. In supporting the drive for fleets to increase their clean fuel vehicle content Peter Knights, Lex Vehicle Leasing's environmental manager, said in the report: 'Company car drivers are an essential part of a healthy economy so the industry should encourage fleet managers to consider the environmental impact of their fleet policies.'
Copies of the 'Clean Fuel Vehicle Market Report' can be obtained by accessing www.transportaction.org.uk.