Driver Dilemmas: To Diesel or Not to Diesel

The registration of diesel cars dropped by a third in the first six months of 2018. It appears that many drivers are moving away from diesel vehicles and opting for alternative fuels, in the wake of increased environmental campaigns and government measures that make those vehicles less appealing to fleet operators. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of diesel and consider whether now is the time to go green.
Diesel Difficulties

Although, in the past, diesel has been promoted, this government has been discouraging its use by raising the BiK surcharge from 3% to 4%. This could be the reason petrol registrations are up 11% this year and, in fact, over two-thirds of new cars in the UK are petrol powered. So why is diesel being targeted?

New vs. Old

Many people have a fixed idea of diesel-powered vehicles as being harmful to the environment. This does have scientific backing, of course, but proponents of the fuel argue that although older vehicles do pump out high levels of NOx, newer Euro 6 compliant units are much cleaner. Despite this, due to BiK increases, some fleet managers may be looking for alternatives to power their trucks.

The Alternatives

Green alternatives, such as hybrid and electric are becoming more popular. National registration of these is up by almost a quarter this year and, although the starting point was admittedly very low, this increase is likely to continue over the next few years. With clean emissions, these vehicles are a great option for reducing a company’s environmental impact, however electric trucks may not be ideal for the average fleet driver job quite yet.

Hybrid and Plug-Ins could be a good alternative for a regular fleet driver job encompassing short distances in towns and cities, because these central hubs give easy access to electricity – the main fuel source. However, these vehicles may not be the best overall option for a fleet driver. Job distance, time and location must be taken into consideration and, for example, at motorway speeds and over long distances, hybrid vehicles are still not entirely economical in comparison to other options.

The next five to ten years may see fleet managers having to make tough decisions as they weigh up environmental impact, cost, efficiency and convenience, when making decisions about fuel. Surveys suggest that many drivers are still hesitant about making the switch from traditional fuels to green energy. Members of the public have said that they don’t see themselves going fully green for at least ten years, however, for logistics companies, it is important to be ahead of the game. If the future is green, is it best to take the plunge and make the switch soon? Or should you hold back, save funds, and see where the market goes?

Whatever ever you chose for your fleet right now, in a couple of decades time, it is likely that we will be talking about the disappearance of petrol and diesel for good.

Author Plate

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching fleet driver job opportunities with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.