The Chancellor’s latest budget has just been released. And, as predicted, it has stepped up the pressure on diesel with a vehicle excise duty hike of up to £500 on new cars that “don’t meet the latest [emissions] standards”. Surprisingly, fuel duty has been frozen, and new vans and HGVs remain unaffected, which shows the government’s unwillingness to penalise diesel drivers too hard. Why? Because 96% of all commercial vehicles still use this fuel, and it still has plenty of mileage left.
What’s interesting is this budget shows the government’s refusal to “criminalise” diesel, and highlights the need to reassess its role on our roads today. True, air quality in built-up areas is a serious concern. Diesel engines produce more nitrogen oxides and more particulates than petrol or hybrid engines (although 84% less since the Millennium). That’s why legislation, such as London’s new Toxicity Charge, and the Chancellor’s budget are clamping down on non-compliant engines.
But for fleets running cleaner Euro 6 diesel engines with particulate filters that capture 99% of all exhaust matter, or that drive mainly on motorways, diesel shouldn’t be an issue. And the government clearly agrees. Despite some European cities already talking about an outright diesel ban, that’s not going to happen in the UK until 2040.
The reasons for this are simple.
The Government still needs to meet its CO2 targets and diesels help
As The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) pointed out earlier this year in 10 facts you need to know about diesel, the fuel is significantly helping to reducing the UK’s CO2 emissions and thus tackle climate change. Diesel engines emit, on average, 20% less CO2 than petrol equivalents and since 2002 have saved 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.
Petrol vehicles aren’t closing the mpg gap to diesels in the real world
Diesel engines are still more fuel-efficient than petrol engines over longer distances. As the Chairman of the BVRLA, Gerry Keaney has pointed out, “For as long as there is no other suitable cost-effective and practical alternative on the market, Diesel powertrains will continue to play a vital role for transporting goods and people around the UK” because they’re more thermally efficient than petrol, which means they still go further on a gallon of fuel. Which helps fuels on-the-road business.
Switching to petrol is costly
According to recent reports, fleets switching from diesels to petrols could see their fuel bills rise by 35%.
Data from over 8,000 vehicles sampled has shown that diesels average 49.8 mpg in real-world use compared with 36 mpg for petrols and 41.6 mpg for hybrids. The cost of fuel for diesels averaged 11.2 pence per mile but petrol averaged 15.2 pence per mile – 35% higher.
For the average diesel driver, switching to a petrol would add almost £400 to their fuel bill for every 10,000 miles (£1,122 for diesel vs. £1,515 for petrol).
Fuel prices will inevitably rise though. So how will fleets cover the cost?
Although fuel duty has been frozen, it’s only a matter of time before the price at pumps creeps up again. The best way to counter and control inevitable rising fuel costs is with the right fuel card for your fleet. Fuel cards can save you up to 4p per litre off the national average price of diesel. And they guarantee the same price at hundreds of pumps across the UK.
As Group Marketing Manager of Fuel Card Services, Steve Clarke, says, “Diesel’s not going away any time soon, because it’s still powering 9 out of every 10 commercial vehicles on the road. But this recent price hike is a pain fleets can do without, which is why our fuel card solutions exist to help ease it.”
Visit www.fuelcardservices.com for more information.
Posted on 24th November 2017
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