Even company car fleets are ditching diesel

DieselCompany cars currently make up 55 percent of British new car sales. In recent years, diesel has dominated, thanks to its low CO2 and high MPG. But this is changing, reveals latest research – and more quickly than the industry anticipated.

Reflecting the move away from diesel by private car buyers, the latest Sewells Research & Insight Market Barometer survey suggests a 17 percent drop in new diesel car sales to fleets. Remember, when fleet and business sales comprise more than half of the 2.5 million cars sold in 2017, that’s a lot of sales to lose…

The short-term winner is petrol cars, but growing numbers of ambitious fleets are looking further afield: 30 percent of them expect hybrid cars will join their fleet in the next year… and 7 percent expect to be running pure electric cars.

For corporate fleets – those employing 250 or more people – the numbers are even higher. 47 percent expect to start running hybrids this year, and 16 percent preparing to replace their current cars with electric cars.

Today, barely 1 in 10 fleets run a hybrid, and just 3 percent are running EVs.

“Tipping point”

Fleets don’t seem to be put off by any usability concerns surrounding hybrids, either. It’s actually intensive-use utility companies, transport firms and construction businesses that are most eager to switch into hybrids and EVs, says the research.

As for the types of car fleets want to go hybrid and EV in, executive cars, SUVs and MPVs are set for the biggest change: the dominance of diesel in these sectors today will quickly switch to hybrids and, in time, electric cars. 

Simon Staplehurst, commercial research director, Sewells Research & Insight, said: “The Market Barometer reveals that fleets intend to switch to cleaner, lower emission cars much more quickly than many people in the industry expect.

“The fleet sector has passed the tipping point from a default to diesel towards a greener future.”

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