Fleet News

Almost one third of fleet drivers to opt for plug-in vehicles

Plug-in vehicles will be the company car of choice for almost one-in-three employees, a Fleet News poll suggests.

Diesel will remain dominant for company car drivers, with almost half (47.2%) of the 282 respondents saying it will be their powertrain of choice for their next car.

But, despite a growing interest in the new breed of leaner petrol engines entering the market, only one-in-eight (12.4%) said they will be choosing petrol next time around.

Ultra-low emission vehicles were the most popular choice after diesel, with 31% saying they would be choosing either a plug-in hybrid (23%) or an electric vehicle (8.2%). A further 7.1% said they would opt for a conventional hybrid.

Alternatively-fuelled vehicles will account for 40.4% of future company car orders, according to the poll, with an environmentally-friendly choice being reflected in the view of those that responded ‘other’ (2.1%).

Their future power train of choice was hydrogen, despite the current lack of an adequate refuelling infrastructure.      

A recent KPMG survey supports the findings. It suggested that 79% of automotive executives believe that hybrid vehicles will be the powertrain of choice by 2030.  

The growing number of company car drivers switching to plug-in vehicles, however, comes as the Government cut its contribution via the plug-in car grant. 

From March 1, the maximum subsidy available to purchasers of the greenest cars was cut from £5,000 to £4,500 as ministers reduced taxpayer support for each vehicle sold.

As part of the overhaul, vehicles will be divided into three sub-categories depending on the extent of their green credentials.

For certain vehicles this will result in a maximum pay-out of no more than £2,500. A few will be excluded altogether.

The changes sparked a flood of orders in an effort to  beat the deadline and secure the higher grant from the Government.

It resulted in reports that BMW’s new plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series, the 330e, had already reached its UK allocation of 2,500 units for 2016.

Some customers, who believed they had placed orders for cars, were told the car had sold out.

BMW admitted it was experiencing high demand for the 330e, but two other plug-in hybrid cars recently introduced – the X5 xDrive40e SUV and 225xe MPV – were not subject to the same pressures.

Mitsubishi said it can meet demand for its Outlander PHEV, which achieved more than 10,000 registrations in its first 12 months on sale and managed almost 12,000 registrations during 2015.

The car, which underwent a facelift in October 2015, continues to be in demand among company car drivers, but the company said lead times remain consistent, and some vehicles can be procured from stock.

Toby Marshall, sales and marketing director at Mitsubishi, said: “Dealers are reporting a huge increase in interest and website traffic is higher than ever.

“That said, we do have the vehicles in stock to satisfy demand,” he added.

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