And the mood of suppliers and fleet managers at a recent green event suggests there is a long way to go before the situation becomes clearer.
Speaking at the exhibition of environmentally-friendly cars and vans at Rockingham race circuit, Edward Pigg of leasing company Lombard said many visitors were unclear on the options available to fleets.
Mr Pigg, Lombard’s head of sales, said: ‘We were the only top-20 leasing company present and were busy all day with enquiries and test-drives of the Lexus GS450h petrol-electric hybrid we took along.
‘It was apparent that few had driven a hybrid and many had failed to register that the hybrid option was available in prestige vehicles as well as lower-priced cars.
‘More importantly, it was also obvious that while businesses want to operate greener fleets there is confusion about what are the most important issues to tackle, the multitude of possible solutions and the cost benefits.’
Mr Pigg said the confusion was not surprising because of the myriad approaches taken by carmakers – cleaner petrol and diesel engines, biofuels, hybrids, electric power and so on.
His concerns were confirmed by some of the fleet operators spoken to by Fleet News at the Green Fleet event.
Colin Woods, procurement officer at Wakefield Council, said: ‘We know we’re supposed to go green, but we’re not sure how to do it. I’m concerned that manufacturers are trying to sell cars rather than give direction. They all want to tell us that theirs is the best.
‘There’s so much choice and it would be nice to be able to tell the difference between them. We need guidance from someone, people to say ‘this is what you want to be doing’, because we’re just guessing.’
Ian Gould, fleet manager for Dean and Dyball Construction, was surprised that there weren’t more manufacturers or government representation at the event.
‘As green is the buzzword, I would have thought there would have been more manufacturers and also the Department for Transport (DfT) to let us know what’s available,’ he said. ‘We need the government to take the lead.’
A spokesman for the DfT defended its record, claiming that through the Transport Advice Programme the Energy Saving Trust was funded to deliver green advice to fleets. He said that in the past year 121 fleets had benefited from a free Green Fleet Review through the Energy Saving Trust.
But industry pundits argue that with more than 20,000 fleets in the UK, it will take a lot more effort to spread the word effectively.