Fleet News

Petrol proves more attractive to fleets

Car fleets appear to be returning to petrol power, according to new research, which also confirms that the popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles is increasing.

“Fleets are going to back to basics and examining their fuel choices.

"One fact that is becoming increasingly influential is the significant price difference between petrol and diesel.

"The latter is now so expensive that fuel economy has to be significantly better to justify choosing a diesel car,” said Rich Green, managing director at GE Capital Solutions, Fleet Services, which carried out the research.

“Also, the latest generation of petrol vehicles has closed the gap when it comes to key traditional diesel advantages.

"Some petrol cars are almost as fuel efficient and very near on CO2 output, while their general environmental performance at the tailpipe is often better overall.

“For a long time, diesel has been an automatic choice when it comes to choosing a company car, but increasingly it may become the preserve of higher mileage drivers in certain vehicles.”

GE’s research found that 10.7% of respondents said their fleets have seen an increase in the number of petrol-powered cars compared to 12 months ago – while just 3.0% have seen an increase in diesel.

However, while there appears to be a trend to efficient, low capacity turbo-charged petrol engines among fleets, the ascendancy of diesel is still evident in fleet registrations.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the diesel market share rose to a record high of 45.6% last month.

Its figures confirm that business registrations of diesel cars – those that were registered to sub-25 vehicle fleets – have fallen over the past 10 months.

To the end of October 2007, just over 61,600 diesel cars were registered to businesses, while so far this year, just 53,200 diesel cars have been registered to businesses.

However, fleet registrations of diesel cars – those into lease companies and fleets of more than 25 vehicles – have shown a massive increase. In the same 10-month period in 2007, there were 486,000 diesel cars registered to fleets.

So far this year this figure has jumped to over 511,000.

GE said it was identifying emerging trends in fuel use rather than vehicle acquisitions.

The research “gives an indication of where trends could be heading and the fact that more fleets are looking at petrol vehicles,” said a spokesman.

The SMMT figures confirm that GE’s trends have yet to filter through to actual Meanwhile, registrations of petrol and alternatively-fuelled cars into fleet have fallen by almost 70,000 so far this year.

While sales are still small, the demand for alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFV) is making headway.

In a declining market, sales of AFV have increased their market share to 0.8% from 0.7% last year.

According to the GE research, electric-powered vehicle adoption among fleets is up 9.2% year on year, with hybrids rising 17%.

An additional finding revealed by Company Car Trends is that increasing fuel prices is leading to increased working from home – 98.3% of respondents said this would be a factor in cutting the amount of business miles travelled in the future.

Mr Green explained: “The company car is almost certain to remain the business travel tool of choice but the cost of fuel, alongside other emerging factors, means that how it is used will be increasingly scrutinised.

"Many drivers will be covering fewer miles.”

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