Corporate fleets leading the exodus away from the fuel as more than 59% of the overall fleet sector asserts that it will not replace vehicles with those powered by the once popular fuel-type.
While official figures from the SMMT revealed that sales of diesel cars dropped by 25.6% in January Sewells Research & Insight’s twice-yearly Market Barometer has found that the shift away from diesel is happening far more quickly than many anticipated in the fleet sector.
Currently, 71% of fleets operate diesel cars, but only 59% expect their replacement cars to be fuelled by diesel.
The Market Barometer suggests that as many as 30% of fleets expect to run hybrid cars within the next 12 months, and a further 7% will have pure electric cars on their books by the end of the year.
This represents a dramatic increase from the 12% of fleets that currently have at least one hybrid car, and the 3% of fleets, which have a battery-powered car.
Simon Staplehurst, commercial research director, Sewells Research & Insight, said: “The Market Barometer reveals that fleets intend to switch to cleaner, lower emission cars much more quickly than many people in the industry expect.
“The fleet sector has passed the tipping point from a default to diesel towards a greener future.”
Corporate fleets (employing 250+ people) are leading the way, with 47% expecting to replace some of their cars with hybrids this year, and 16% preparing to run electric cars.
Sewells expects essential vehicle users, such as utility companies, transport firms, and construction businesses are at the forefront of the move to cleaner emission vehicles.
Its research also found that upper medium, executive and dual purpose (SUV and MPV) sectors of company car are set for the most significant change in fuelling policy, with hybrid alternatives replacing diesel models, while electric cars gain a toe hold.