Over the past couple of years diesel has become the public enemy number one of motor fuels. So should you buy a diesel van or car in 2019? And if you don’t, what are the alternatives?
Well, thanks a million Volkswagen. When the emissions scandal broke in 2015 diesel, previously hailed as the cleaner, more responsible alternative to petrol, suddenly became the fuel equivalent of Cruella De Vil.
All those companies that had invested in fleets of diesel vans (and let’s face it, virtually every company – including ours – has relied on diesel) were suddenly worried they would be faced with depreciating van values and the happy knowledge that every mile added to the build-up of dangerous NOx in our towns and cities.
As is so often the case, the furore has drowned out a lot of the calmer, saner voices, to the extent that it almost doesn’t matter what the reality is – diesel’s days appear numbered. Vehicle Excise Duty went up. Porsche has stopped diesel production. Suzuki has pressed the pause button. Toyota has started the process of phasing out diesel models from its range. And from 2019, every Volvo will be at least part-hybrid.
The diesel reality
And yet, new diesels are some of the cleanest vehicles on the road – so clean that they comfortably sail through Euro 6 emissions tests, which means they’ll qualify to drive in Ultra Low Emission Zones without fear of a penalty charge.
The depreciation fears never quite came to pass either. It’s true that, when we sell one of our diesel hire vans or cars, we might get 2%-3% less than we would a petrol version, but that hardly marks a cliff edge.
So should you buy a new diesel van. The answer, rather frustratingly, is ‘it depends’. If you’ve been driving a clean diesel for the past few years, you might feel it’s time to invest in the growing pool of hybrid vehicles. If, on the other hand, your current diesel is the equivalent of a portable chimney, a clean diesel is going to be more fuel efficient, create better PR and save you money as more emission zones come into play.
But that’s the position right now, in 2018. As every year passes, hybrid and electric technologies improve and it seems almost inevitable that we’re going to reach a tipping point when those cleaner alternatives become a better choice than diesel. The question is whether that point is going to arrive before diesels are priced or legislated off the road. Our best guess would be you’re probably safe with another diesel van lease for three years. But if you’re planning to buy and keep a diesel van for longer, things start to look risky.
Flexible van leasing
The problem with the diesel alternatives is that you always get the impression we’re on the brink of the next big leap in technology, and no one wants to invest in an electric van this year when next year’s model may have ten times the range.
So while the industry evolves and we wait to see which clean tech is going to become the Betamax of the bunch, flexible van leasing is growing in popularity. It’s particularly handy because, with no ties, when the right buying option does appear, you can simply hand the lease van back, no penalties.
If your company is adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude before buying your next fleet vehicles, flexible van leasing could give you all the waiting time you need. Find out more about flexible van leasing with TJS.