This goes against much of the rhetoric that has been published lately, but is diesel set for a fight-back? Mercedes Benz are set to launch a diesel plug-in hybrid version of their C Class saloon and it could be the answer to every company car driver’s prayers.
The reason that diesel has been so popular with fleet operators over the years is due to the fact that they offer a higher level of economy, especially when used to navigate up and down motorways, covering large distances regularly.
There are currently a number of alternatives when it comes to plug-in hybrids for company car users to choose from, but many of them do not suit high mileage users. Once the limited electric range has been utilised, the driver has to rely on a petrol engine, that generally is not very economical and therefore fuel costs increase. Used in the correct manner plug-in hybrids can be fantastically economical vehicles, if you only cover short mileage each day then you can max out the use of the zero emission electric range and save on fuel. However, many of the current cars on the roads today are being driven by high mileage company car users who are benefiting from the tax breaks but at the same time their company, who has the car on fleet incurs higher fuel bills, so one win is off-set by another loss.
The new Mercedes diesel plug-in hybrid offers the best of both worlds; firstly, as it is a plug-in hybrid and will benefit from a short full electric range of 20-30 miles, and secondly once the electrical range has been exhausted it will turn to a modern economical diesel engine. So for short runs into the city it can be used in emissions free mode keeping the city centres cleaner, and then for longer journeys the car will run on a modern, clean and very economical diesel engine.
So does this mean that the diesel is still alive and kicking? I certainly think it does and I have a feeling that many heavy use company car users will do too.