/ Motoring Research

Death of The Diesel Accelerates As Fleet Buyers Opt For Hybrids

Fleets moving towards hybrid and electric powertrains much faster than industry anticipates. The sharp decline in sales of diesel cars in January is set to continue, with corporate fleets leading the exodus away from the fuel, according to new research.

Official figures from the SMMT revealed that sales of diesel cars dropped by 25.6% in January.

Research indicates that 71% of fleets currently operate diesel cars, but only 59% expect their replacement cars to be fuelled by diesel. Petrol cars will take up most of the slack in the short-term, although by far the most dynamic growth will be in sales of hybrid and electric cars.

As many as 30% of fleets expect to run hybrid cars within the next 12 months, and a further 7% will have pure electric cars on their books by the end of the year. This represents a dramatic increase from the 12% of fleets that currently have at least one hybrid car, and the 3% of fleets which have a battery-powered car.

Corporate fleets (employing 250+ people) are leading the way towards a lower emission future, with 47% expecting to replace some of their cars with hybrids this year, and 16% preparing to run electric cars.

Essential vehicle users, such as utility companies, transport firms, and construction businesses are at the forefront of the move to cleaner emission vehicles, according to Sewells.

The upper medium, executive and dual purpose (SUV and MPV) sectors of company car are set for the most significant change in fuelling policy, with hybrid alternatives replacing diesel models, while electric cars gain a toe hold.