Fleet News

Diesel hysteria ‘unhealthy’ for the fleet sector

Growing hysteria regarding diesel cars could have a negative impact on the fleet sector if the reality isn’t put into perspective.

That’s the concern of Shaun Barritt, CEO of Grosvenor Leasing, who says ‘dirty diesel’ headlines could have a detrimental effect on the fleet sector, with talks of scrappage schemes and polluting diesels giving the impression we need to get them off our roads as a matter of urgency.

“Everyone appreciates the green agenda is encouraging drivers into ULEV and EV drivers,” said Barritt, “and the positive message is that we will soon see a dramatic increase in these vehicles on our roads, largely because the motor manufacturers are being targeted by 2021 to achieve 95g/km for the cars that they produce.

“As these targets won’t be achieved with normal internal combustion engine vehicles, the shift in the next four years will be considerable, and when diesel drivers swap their cars they will inevitably be changing to much greener vehicles.

“Add into this the financial incentives to drive a low emission vehicle, the punitive measures to make it costly if you don’t, and the fact that the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund is investing a further £390 million by 2020-21 to support ultra-low emission vehicles, renewable fuels, and connected and autonomous vehicles, including £80 million for ULEV charging infrastructure, the positive message is that we are now very quickly going greener as a nation.

“Yet reading the headlines, the focus isn’t on portraying the benefits of everyone driving greener cars. Instead, the language is of doom and gloom about dirty diesels, scrappage schemes and the pollution they’re causing. 

“It wasn’t long ago that we were being encouraged by the Government to drive diesels and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has recently reminded us that diesel cars emit, on average, 20% lower CO2 than petrol equivalents.

Barritt continued: “We need a sense of calm, because if the dirty diesel phrase gets into people’s minds the likelihood is it will impact their resale values. This could then lead to the leasing sector suffering losses against forecasted residual values, and the contract hire companies who are pivotal to the UK automotive sector will subsequently have less to invest in green initiatives.

“Falling used car values for diesels also means they will be bought by drivers who feel they can get a better second hand car for their budget, but may end up finding them costly to run resulting in less money to service and maintain them meaning they could be even more polluting than before.

“I would urge the UK Government and the media to push the positive green message rather than focus on this negative campaign of ridiculous hysteria for anyone driving a diesel car, as its very counter-productive and could be very damaging to the fleet sector which is playing a vital role in driving the green agenda.”

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  • Robberg - 18/04/2017 11:16

    Shaun Barritt has made a very good point here. It always surprises me how easily the public can be swayed by the media and how the ignorant have to be appeased these days. The word hysteria is not used lightly in the article and a robust campaign from manufacturers and leasing companies alike is needed to tell the true story about modern diesel engines.

  • Nigel Boyle - 18/04/2017 11:22

    Diesel Hysteria is a good title as fleets change their cars 3-4 years so by now more of the fleets are 50-75% Euro 6. It we swapped to petrol we will double our fuel bills and increase our CO2 output. If we swap to PHEV the same applies as they only do a few miles then swap to petrol. If we swap ito Electric we will have 400 employees spenging aroung 2 hours a day at recharge stations. The only alternative to Diesel is Electric, however once normal cars do what the Tesla and iPace do and achieve 400 miles range between charges will they get into the main stream. Suggesting Petrol is a little like telling a film watcher to use Betamax not BlueRay - both out of date and expensive. By Expensive I mean to the environment as well as company. They average 30 something where diesels averages 50 something.

  • Allen Schaeffer - 18/04/2017 14:16

    Shaun Barritt is a wise man, and he is exactly right about the hysteria on diesel in the UK and EU. It is a self inflicted wound to some degree (VW cheating) and a long period where real driving emissions and laboratory testing were not well understood nor popularized. But the UK and EU need the newest generation of clean diesel technology to achieve CO2 goals and to meet the needs of moving goods and people efficiently and reliably. Certainly interest in other technologies is reasonable, but diesel is not standing still, with more advanced emissions control technologies. Also here in the US, a number of high profile municipal fleets are converting their fuels not their engines -- to renewable diesel fuel made from 100 percent waste animal fats. It's a drop in hydrocarbon replacement with lower NOx emissions, CO2 and other emissions than regular petroleum diesel. There are many different shades of green, and the diversity of fleets mean that they need those choices. Learn more about clean diesel technology at website dieselforum dot org.

  • Glenn - 18/04/2017 14:25

    Interesting how we've known deep down that diesel was dirty because there was a 3% uplift on the BIK rate; yet, because we were told that lower CO2 meant saving the planet, we went with the dirty option. It isn't hysteria, it is simple re-balancing. We can play the blame game later, whether it is the green lobby for misleading us about the effects of CO2, the Government for incentivising diesel and holding duty rates at just about the same for both fuels, or the manufacturers and leasing companies for going along with the deception about how "clean" modern diesels really are will all become apparent. The warnings have been there for years, but no-one was prepared to listen as it didn't fit the script. Whatever happens next will be messy, expensive and probably wrong because the green lobby and politicians will be involved. We need to look at alternative fuels (but not just electric), scrappage of old diesels, and possibly conversion or changing of engines on newer diesels. Simply introducing charging zones will not work. No-one drives in a city centre for fun, so they'll have to pay until someone comes up with viable alternative propulsion than diesel, petrol or electricity. It has always been about air quality.Some manufacturers have steered clear of diesel deliberately, and others are making noises about moving away completely. The fact that some have been embroiled in scandals surrounding the testing and verification of diesels speaks volumes. Hysteria surrounding CO2 led us into this situation. Defending the status quo will not help. We need acknowledgement that there is a problem and realistic solutions; quickly before the eco-warriors and political chancers get a hold on it.

  • Peter Wilkins - 19/04/2017 17:03

    Petrol powered hybrids like the Prius are a practical alternative now to dirty diesels. They use less fuel than a comparable diesel, produce much less NOx, have long range and are very reliable. Less maintenance is needed since brake pads last a long time.

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