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Shaun Sadlier's blog: Why we need to stop talking about alternative fuels

Date: 21 February 2019

It's become customary in fleet over recent years to gather electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other hybrids under a general heading of AFVs - alternative fuel vehicles.

Increasingly, the use of the word, 'alternative' in this context has started to bother me. It means an alternative to petrol and diesel, of course, which in one respect is understandable. These are the well-established norms. However, if we are going to start integrating these newer fuel options into fleets on an everyday basis, we need to stop thinking of them as exceptions and consider them as part of the norm, too.

Like most other leading consultants on fleet issues, we believe fleets should be starting to use all available fuel types as appropriate to their needs, with each carefully evaluated to fit its application. In fact, we have just introduced something called the Driver Powertrain Compatibility Tool, designed to help drivers identify the best fuel choice for them. Based on eight questions covering driving cycles, average daily distances, work and business journeys, driving styles, towing, vehicle recharging availability and even driving holidays, it shows a percentage suitability for each of five options - diesel, petrol, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric. 

These fuels are all shown as equals in the results and none of them are labelled as an alternative. I believe this is very important - if drivers and fleets are to see electrics and hybrids as practical options, we need to start treating them as simply normal. 

At the end of the day, these are all viable, mainstream fuel choices and they all have a place in the fleets of today. We need to start presenting them as such.

Shaun Sadlier is head of consultancy at Arval



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