Since January, company motorists with diesel cars that meet Euro IV emissions standards were no longer exempt from a 3% benefit-in-kind tax surcharge.
The study suggests that a quarter of companies will now introduce more petrol-engined models to their fleet choice lists.
The findings are produced as part of the results from an online poll of 334 companies by ALD Automotive.
Deputy managing director Nigel Fletcher said: ‘With diesel cars typically costing more than their petrol equivalents, diesel fuel costing more than petrol at the pumps and the improved fuel economy of many petrol-engined models it may well be that diesel is no longer the most cost-effective solution for some fleets and their drivers.’
He added: ‘While a move away from diesel will not be right for every fleet, cost benefit analysis shows that some employees will be better off with a petrol-engined company car and some fleets will cut their operating costs by returning to petrol models depending on mileage clocked up.’
But bosses at another fleet services company say that although demand for diesel may have peaked, with its own survey showing that only 38% of 800 fleets questioned predict an increase in use of diesel in the future, they do not foresee a large-scale switch back to petrol.
Rich Green, managing director at GE Fleet Services, said: ‘The re-introduction of the 3% benefit-in-kind diesel surcharge on Euro IV models may be leading to a softening of diesel demand among fleets in the future.
‘But while diesel cars continue to offer real fuel cost, environmental and corporate benefits, I don’t foresee a wholesale switch back to petrol or any other fuel.’
And, in contrast, recent findings by fleet and fuel management company Arval found that the number of fleets implementing diesel-only policies has doubled in three years. Bosses said they expected this rate of growth to continue (Fleet NewsNet, March 7).
Mixed views on ‘green vehicle’ incentives
Other industry topics highlighted in the ALD Automotive survey include: