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Diesel “continues to remain a primary buying choice for fleets in the absence of clarity on future fuel policy”, according to a report issued by AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions.

The firms said a lack of consistency in local policy interventions, such as the London ULEZ boundary expansion in 2021, the Bristol City Council diesel ban and delays to Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and Leeds, has pushed some operational fleets to replace diesel vehicles like-for-like rather than investing in new technologies.

Diesel is still doing it - image

The majority (89%) of those surveyed for the said they continue to use diesel in their fleets, with reasons including the fact it remains cheaper than alternatives and, with Euro6 compliant engines, meets the requirements of most clean air zone legislation announced to date. Three quarters (75%) still expect to be using diesel in their fleets in five years’ time, the results from the poll added.

However, 57% said they expect EVs to be on their fleets in the next five years, while, a third (33%) of fleet decision-makers think pure EVs will be the most dominant fuel type on fleet in ten years’ time.

Stuart Thomas, Director of fleet and SME at the AA, said: “The research has emphasised education and clarity are key if fleet decision-makers are to make effective judgements around investing in a clean air future. In the absence of clear guidance and a confirmed road map towards zero emissions, fleet operators and businesses are sticking to what they know, adding new diesels to their fleets and paying fines for non-compliance rather than investing in new EVs.”

He added: “However, this pragmatism needs to be weighed with a sense of optimism when it comes to future planning. We haven’t seen the big shift we expected in the past 12 months, and individual local clean air interventions are not the way to drive nationwide change, but the decision to prolong diesel into another purchase cycle appears to be a conscious one based on whole life cost calculations.”