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May 5, 2017

Diesel no longer the obvious choice for fleets, IFMI webinar warns

Despite diesel’s continuing popularity in corporate fleets, it is time that fleet managers prepare to switch – at least partially – to petrol, and even to electric vehicles (EVs). That is the main takeaway of a recent IFMI webinar on ‘Diesel or Petrol: How to identify the best choice for your fleet’.

The switch particularly makes sense for short-distance urban trips, attendees of the webinar (see below) heard. The event was organised by the International Fleet Management Institute (IFMI), under the aegis of Fleet Europe.

Popular choice

While diesel remains the obvious and most popular choice for most corporate mobility needs, the experts presenting the webinar pointed to a number of factors that were improving the business case for a switch away from diesel, across Europe’s various markets. Most notably: the inexorable abolition of diesel’s preferential tax treatment; and the increasing number of urban centres covered by low-emission zones or even outright diesel bans.  

Diesels conforming to the latest Euro 6 norms are approaching emissions levels of petrol cars, but even that is no guarantee that they won’t be restricted in future. Dieselgate has made both the public and politicians wary of diesel. It has already been determined that they will be subject to entry charges into London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone from April 2019 onwards, for example. Similar anti-diesel measures may be enacted elsewhere – irrespective of Euro 6. Petrol will need to be part of the fleet mix if businesses want to ensure continued unrestricted access to city centres.

Car-sharing initiatives

A case study of motorisation switching at Orange France highlighted the importance of initiatives like car-sharing, which emphasise the usage of the right vehicles for the right purpose – for example, using electric cars (rather than petrol or diesel) for short-distance trips. Petrol would be the right choice for intermediate trips, while diesel would remain the best option for longer ones. The challenge for fleet management of the future would be to determine which motorisation is right for which trip, especially as the threshold for electric mobility continues to rise rapidly, as the technology improves.  

An analysis of residual values indicates that used diesel cars are still very good at retaining their value, at least for now. But with EV technology advancing rapidly, fleet managers would do well to take on board the advantages of having a healthy mix of motorisations in their fleet, to provide it with the flexibility necessary to weather the changes in the coming years.


The IFMI webinar can be seen in full here.

The next IFMI event will be a full-day training session on 5 December in Estoril, Portugal, on the subject of: ‘Going Global, Missions, Responsibilities, Challenges and Trends’.