Fleet News

Petrol makes a comeback

FLEETS are investigating a return to petrol power in response to the Government shelving benefit-in-kind tax incentives on Euro IV diesel models, a new survey claims.

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).

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    Mixed views on ‘green vehicle’ incentives

    Other industry topics highlighted in the ALD Automotive survey include:

  • Companies are equally split as to whether or not they would add ‘green vehicles’ to their fleets if Government grants to help them were relaunched this year.
  • Just over half believe that fitting ‘black boxes’ to all new vehicles to record information in the event of an accident would be a good safety measure.
  • A total of 38% of respondents say drivers who incur fines for motoring offences, such as speeding, illegal parking and non-payment of the London congestion charge, face an additional penalty from their employer.
  • 79% of companies ensure that all employees obtain a VAT invoice when buying fuel for business use to allow their employer to reclaim VAT. Four out of 10 respondents have introduced fuel cards.
  • 67% of companies put customer service ahead of price and cultural fit when choosing a new supplier.
  • 94% claim to check driving licences of at-work drivers.
  • 41% will ensure that all fleet vehicles are equipped with electronic stability control.
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