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  • Which Fuel is Best for the Environment and Your Fleet in 2020?

    There are a number of things you need to consider when choosing the best fuel for your fleet. What are the vehicles used for (transporting goods/tools/personnel)? Who will be driving them? How frequently will they be used? What kind of distances will they cover? And which fuel is best for the environment?

    That last question is especially salient given current concerns around climate change. Many companies are working to reduce their carbon footprint and choosing a fuel that’s better for the environment is an excellent way to achieve that.

    In this article we’ll look at each of the fuel options open to you and discuss the pros, cons and environmental merits (or otherwise) of each. We hope this guide will help you make the best fuel choice for the environment and your fleet in 2020.

    Why Diesel?

    Since 2002 – when CO2 was used to set the level of benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax on company cars – diesel engines have been the most popular choice for fleets.

    Diesel cars offer better fuel economy than petrol, retain their value (useful for resale) and generally cost less to repair and maintain.

    That said they can be vastly more expensive to purchase outright and they are not as environmentally friendly as once thought.

    Diesel cars release soot (carbon black) and nitrogen oxide, among other harmful emissions. These emissions cause breathing issues and impact local air quality. While car manufacturers have created filters to reduce particulates, testing in France found they don’t work properly in 75% of cars.

    In fact, some local authorities are considering introducing penalties for drivers of diesel cars, including higher parking charges and, in London, an additional fee on top of the congestion charge.

    Still, diesel remains a popular choice despite fierce competition from other fuels.

    Why Petrol?

    Petrol engines have come a long way in recent years. Where once they emitted far more CO2 than diesel cars, improved engine design means they are actually now on a par with their more popular counterpart.

    Petrol cars are much cheaper to buy outright (the cheapest, in fact, of all fuel types) and petrol at the pump is cheaper than diesel. However, petrol engines are notorious for poor fuel efficiency and can be costly to maintain and repair.

    As for ecological impact, new petrol cars are generally less polluting than diesel engines but petrol will never be the best fuel for the environment.

    Why Hybrid?

    A hybrid car is powered by both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The battery is charged through regenerative braking or by the petrol/diesel fuelled engine. Hybrid cars cannot be plugged in to charge (which you may consider a benefit if you don’t have a charging point near you).

    Hybrids consume less fuel and emit fewer CO2 emissions (so you’ll pay a lower BIK tax on them). They’re a great stepping stone towards entirely electric vehicles.

    Due to the way the battery is charged, hybrids are best suited for city-based fleets. If you spend a lot of time on the motorway the battery will need to draw power from the engine rather than the motor, so you won’t benefit from the electric component.

    Why Battery EV?

    It might be rare to see a fully electric car on the roads right now but their significant environmental and financial benefits means it’s only a matter of time before they are more widely adopted. 

    They are cheaper to run than petrol and diesel and are by far the most environmentally friendly option. They also seem to last longer and are cheaper to maintain due to fewer moving parts, lower tax and more favourable insurance premiums.

    However, the infrastructure for electric cars is severely lacking. It can be frustratingly difficult to find a charging point and most battery EV engines are not yet able to make long journeys without plugging in on route. The exception being Tesla with their top end models able to cover 200 miles on a single charge. It’s expected that other car manufacturers will be able to compete with this in the next few years – but it won’t be cheap.

    As with hybrids, the majority of fully electric vehicles are best suited to city-based fleets where stop-starting is the norm and you have easy access to charging points.

    Conclusion

    Ultimately, the best fuel type for your fleet is unique to your company, but if you’re looking strictly at environmental benefits; hybrid and battery EV are the obvious winners.

    While choosing hybrid or battery EV may be costly at the outset, you’ll likely see savings in maintenance costs, fuel, tax and potentially even fleet insurance premiums.

    Before making a final decision, consider the ways your choice could affect your business operations, and what your priorities are. Whether reliability, sustainability, low operation costs, or regulations - the fuel you choose needs to meet those before anything else.

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