Volvo's launch of its own D5 diesel engine could hardly have been better timed, capitalising on the burgeoning demand for diesel engines from company car drivers eager to reduce their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax liability under the new carbon dioxide-based company car tax system.
The figures speak for themselves – Volvo's diesel sales are up 1186.9% during the first seven months of this year, compared to the same period of 2001, albeit from a low base. However, achieving ninth place in the league table for the best-selling diesel manufacturer in the fleet sector is a stunning achievement, beating experienced diesel heavyweights such as Mercedes-Benz.
Volvo has also increased its share of petrol car sales in fleet in the first six months of 2002, and says that with normal supply of the D5 engine not beginning until March 2002, it could strengthen its position before the end of the year.
Ian Rendle, Volvo's corporate sales manager, said: 'We have had a fairly restricted supply of the engine and could have sold more if they were available. Sales should now increase as supply comes through for the rest of the year.
'We now also have a full range of bi-fuel cars, including compressed natural gas (CNG), although our overall volume is not as high as we would like. But a number of fleets are talking to us about bi-fuel at the moment and it is really building up a head of steam which will in time be converted to orders.
'We have benefited from Ford family deals. We can go to fleets and offer one solution giving a whole product range by tying themselves to just one family, and we are working very hard with Ford to ensure it continues.'
Special vehicles manager Peter Cody added that police fleets had begun evaluating S60s and V70s fitted with the D5 engine, while police forces and ambulance services had been ordering V40 diesels.