Economic rationality means diesel is retaining its popularity among commercial fleet users, despite wider trends towards alternative fuels, according to the latest annual Operational Fleet Report from Rivus Fleet Solutions and the AA, available from the Rivus website.

The report was put together with a survey of more than 500 fleet managers, over 30 interviews with industry leaders, and also took in the views of consumers.

It explains that the total cost of ownership for diesel CVs is still lower for most usage cases, and it is only when there is a clean air zone (CAZ) in the picture that the economics of electric vehicles become more competitive, although Euro 6 diesel is still popular for this purpose too.

Rivus Fleet Solutions CEO Henry Brace said: “While we are seeing an increase in the purchasing of CAZ-compliant Euro 6 diesel commercial vehicles, we also are seeing increased interest in alternatively fuelled vehicles through electric cars, an interest not yet matched in commercial vehicles.

“Fleet managers are economically rational professionals – they need a vehicle that does the job they want it to do, is compliant with clean air legislation and has a low total cost of ownership.

“For complex commercial fleets there simply aren’t enough alternatively fuelled options in the market at an attractive price point to cater for all operating usages.”

While there may not yet be many viable options in electric CV models to suit most commercial fleets, the report points out that manufacturers are now developing a wide range of electric and plug-in hybrid products that will be launched over the next two years.

In the meantime, it says there is now a large array of Euro 6-compliant vehicles  representing a cleaner alternative to older diesels that fail to meet the new clean air regulations.

It adds that despite the relatively slow transition to alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles, in the next five years 57% of fleet operators expect to be using electric vehicles and 42% expect to be using plug-in hybrids.