Despite plans in the UK for a diesel scrappage scheme to improve air quality, diesel still has an important role to play – especially for fleets. So says Arval, voicing concern that indiscriminate labelling of all diesels as 'dirty' fails to take into account that newer models offer both excellent fuel efficiency and environmental advantages.
The vehicle leasing and fleet management company is not opposed to a scrappage scheme per se, which can be an effective means to remove old and inefficient vehicles from circulation. But it is concerned that a UK scrappage scheme, details of which remain to be decided, could be set up injudiciously.
“Such a scheme would likely only be aimed at the very oldest, most polluting diesels on our roads. This makes sense to us and is a move that we would support“, says David Nicholas (pictured), fleet consultant at Arval UK. “What concerns us is the possibility that modern, Euro 6 diesels, that have a core role to play in the modern fleet mix and offer strong environmental credentials such as low CO2, could somehow become perceived as undesirable“.
That would not make sense, and disproportionately hurt fleets, Nicholas says – while admitting that, in the long run, the glory days of diesel are over: “We are now entering an era where hybrids, which are being offered by several manufacturers, offer similar or better emissions performance to diesels. It is also often easier to engineer these cars to meet modern emissions standards at an acceptable price“.
“Choice lists are gradually changing to reflect these trends. There is no indication that there will be a sudden exodus away from diesel but there are several signals that the direction of travel has changed”. In Arval’s latest Corporate Vehicle Observatory research, UK fleets predicted that the percentage of diesel cars they operate would reduce from 88% today to 76% within five years.