Cartoon of shocked woman

Diesel hysteria unhealthy for the fleet sector

Growing hysteria regarding diesel cars could have a negative impact on the fleet sector if the reality isn’t put into perspective.

That’s the concern of Shaun Barritt, CEO of Grosvenor Leasing, who says ‘dirty diesel’ headlines could have a detrimental effect on the fleet sector, with talks of scrappage schemes and polluting diesel giving the impression we need to get them off our roads as a matter of urgency.

“Everyone appreciates the green agenda is encouraging drivers into ULEV and EV drivers,” said Barritt, “and the positive message is that we will soon see a dramatic increase in these vehicles on our roads, largely because the motor manufacturers are being targeted by 2021 to achieve 95g/km for the cars that they produce.

“As these targets won’t be achieved with normal internal combustion engine vehicles, the shift in the next 4 years will be considerable, and when diesel drivers swap their cars they will inevitably be changing too much greener vehicles.

“Add into this the financial incentives to drive a low emission vehicle, the punitive measures to make it costly if you don’t, and the fact that the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) is investing a further £390 million by 2020-21 to support ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), renewable fuels, and connected and autonomous vehicles (Cavs), including £80 million for ULEV charging infrastructure, the positive message is that we are now very quickly going greener as a nation!

“Yet reading the headlines, the focus isn’t on portraying the benefits of everyone driving greener cars. Instead, the language is of doom and gloom about dirty diesel, scrappage schemes and the pollution they’re causing. It wasn’t long ago that we were being encouraged by the Government to drive the diesel and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has recently reminded us that diesel cars emit, on average, 20% lower CO2 than petrol equivalents.

“We need a sense of calm,” continued Barritt, “because if the dirty diesel phrase gets into people’s minds the likelihood is it will impact their resale values. This could then lead to the leasing sector suffering losses against forecasted residual values, and the contract hire companies who are pivotal to the UK automotive sector will subsequently have less to invest in green initiatives.

“Falling used car values for diesel also means they will be bought by drivers who feel they can get a better second-hand car for their budget but may end up finding them costly to run resulting in less money to service and maintain them meaning they could be even more polluting than before.

“I would urge the UK Government and the media to push the positive green message rather than focus on this negative campaign of ridiculous hysteria for anyone driving a diesel car, as its very counter-productive and could be very damaging to the fleet sector which is playing a vital role in driving the green agenda.”