Petrol-powered company cars could almost be obsolete in 10 years, according to a new study by Lex Autolease with 300 finance chiefs and company car drivers.
Two exclusive surveys, conducted for the UK's largest leasing company, reveal that early adopters of hybrid and electric vehicles could sound the death knell for petrol.
Less than 5% of both groups polled believe that petrol cars, once the staple choice of business drivers, will outsell other fuel types in a decade's time. In contrast, 8 out of 10 business drivers (78%) and two thirds of FDs (65%) are confident that hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs) will become the most popular company car choice.
Chris Chandler, principle consultant at Lex Autolease, says: "Diesel has already overtaken petrol as the fuel of choice in the fleet sector, which is renowned for being an early adopter of new vehicle technologies. But, clearly, there is an expectation that the move away from petrol will accelerate as hybrids and EVs now begin to attract greater market share.
"10 years is less than three company cars away for most business drivers, so these options are being looked at by finance chiefs and drivers with a greater degree of seriousness than many believed, even within the industry. Employees are readied for change and the business benefits are becoming more and more apparent to financial stakeholders too."
Further findings from Lex Autolease's driver survey show that 87% would consider a diesel for their next company car, while just 28% would put a petrol option on their shortlist. However, exactly half of the drivers polled would also include a hybrid, in either petrol or diesel form, which suggests that the latest batch of hybrids have overcome many of the perceived barriers to entry.
Indeed, almost half (47%) of all drivers polled would like to road test either a hybrid or a fully electric vehicle, while almost two thirds (64%) of finance bosses believe that employees should be given the option to add these vehicles to their company car choice list.
"For the time being diesel is king, but we are witnessing a shift in the market dynamics with new developments coming to the fore with potentially significant benefits for both drivers and companies. FDs are often cautious by nature, so the optimism coming from the shop floor to the boardroom is encouraging to say the least", adds Chris Chandler.
Lex Autolease says that the early interest in EVs has already translated to the next stage:
"We have a fleet of over 300,000 vehicles and many of our customers are looking to trial alternative fueled vehicles, which is a sensible approach, and our consultancy team has never been busier with inquiries of this nature.
"In tandem, we are forging ever closer alliances with manufacturers and other parties in the supply chain to ensure that our customers are well informed and ahead of the game, irrespective of whether they are keen adopt now or in the future", concludes Chris Chandler.
The Lex Autolease surveys were conducted with 230 company drivers and 70 directors of finance.