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Fleet operators are favouring petrol vehicles over diesels, according to research by automotive insight specialist Experteye.

Though diesel cars have dominated the sector in recent years, with many companies operating diesel-only policies, the organisation’s Fleet Industry Review found that more firms are adding petrol vehicles to their choice lists. It also said that drivers with the option of either a petrol or a diesel-engined vehicle are increasingly choosing the former.

Conducted in conjunction with the University of Buckingham, the review is a biannual survey of over 200 fleet operators that “measures their practices and references attitudes and opinions on a wide range of issues”. It includes historical trends from the past seven years.

Respondents said they were expecting diesel vehicles sales to fall over the next two years, while electric, range-extended and hybrid vehicles would increase in popularity in the corporate sector.

They predicted that petrol would “be making a comeback” on fleets.

The survey also asked fleet operators about other elements of fleet management and broader economical issues.

Respondents said “reliability, fleet running costs and fleet safety and risk management” were their primary concerns when making decisions, and would remain so for the next 12 months.

Contract hire remained the most common method of funding vehicles, according to fleet operators. However, the popularity of finance lease was said to be increasing.

Despite predictions that the UK new vehicle market will soften in 2017, more than 50% of respondents said that they did not expect a change in demand for cars. More than 75% did not expect demand for vans to fall, either.

Of the respondents who predicted a fall in demand for vehicles, 20% expected a drop in demand for cars (the highest since 2013, according to Experteye) but only 7% thought there would be a drop in demand for vans.

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