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WHAT type of car will your small business or SME small fleet order next? Will it just be a standard diesel or petrol car?

Or how about an alternative fuel vehicle?


An AFV – because if it’s to do with the auto industry acronyms rule! – features a degree of electrification: that means hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric vehicle or an electric fuel cell vehicle (hydrogen).

Such vehicles have many attractions: lower benefit in kind company car tax; reduced running costs; congestion charge exemption; freedom from any forthcoming Toxicity charges, as well as an increasing degree of product availability.

It appears that these attractions are increasingly becoming obvious to some of UK plc’s fleets according to the latest findings from the 2017 edition of the long-established Arval Corporate Vehicle Observatory Barometer, research which covers 3,847 fleets.

More than half of fleets (56%) are already operating at least one alternative to traditional petrol and diesel models or are in the process of giving the green light to do so in the next three years – an increase of 6% since 2015.

Their choices include:

  • traditional hybrids (22% implemented / 27% planning to introduce within three years);
  • plug-in hybrids (15% / 22%);
  • electric vehicles (10% / 22%); and
  • hydrogen fuel cells (2% / 18%).

Shaun Sadlier, head of Arval’s Corporate Vehicle Observatory in the UK, said: “It is obvious that the twin dominance of petrol and diesel that has characterised the company car and van sector for many, many years is being challenged by credible alternatives.

78% of larger fleets (more than 50 vehicles) are either using them already or plan to

“We are seeing both a push and a pull effect in action. On one hand, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles have become much more usable, well-priced and appealing products in recent years while, on the other, we have seen pressure on diesel because of concerns on air quality.”

“Modern fleets are moving towards a portfolio of drivetrain technologies and are rapidly becoming conversant in which choices work most effectively in different types of applications.

The research also shows that the UK is among the European leaders in the adoption of alternative fuels, being among the top three for every different alternative drivetrain choice in a table of 13 countries.

Discover more benefits of Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Shaun said: “This is unsurprising to us. We see a high degree of enthusiasm in UK fleets and a willingness to try out new ideas. Partially, this is because of the UK company car and general motoring tax regimes which favour low emissions vehicles, but there is also a recognition that many of the new drivetrains, when operated effectively, have definite cost and efficiency advantages.”

However, in the UK there is wide variance in the adoption of alternative fuels between smaller and larger companies. While 78% of larger fleets (more than 50 vehicles) are either using them already or plan to, the penetration drops to 66% of medium fleets (10-49 vehicles) and 44% of smaller fleets (1-9 vehicles).

Shaun said: “There is undeniably a big difference between small and large fleets and it could be that, as an industry, fleet needs to better educate operators of all businesses on the advantages of these new drivetrains. Otherwise, there is a possibility that smaller businesses could miss out on the benefits that they bring.”

  • Below, responses to: Which of these fuels do you plan to add to your fleet within the next three years?