Fuel costs are the second largest consideration in a car's whole-life cost calculation after depreciation, accounting for some 30 per cent of the total over a given mileage. Therefore, it is paramount that company car drivers choose a vehicle - and fuel - that works to get the most from their money.
To address this thorny issue, Skoda has provided a series of guidelines for drivers to refer to when choosing a new vehicle. Martin Burke, Head of Business Sales for Skoda UK, comments: "Despite the onset of biofuel, most people still only consider the two serious challengers: petrol or diesel. This comprehensive set of guidelines sets out the benefits and downfalls of each, providing a vital tool for fleet managers and company car drivers alike."
The case for petrol
Put simply, petrol is cheaper than diesel in a number of areas. Firstly, the initial purchase price of the fuel is significantly less than its rival. In addition to this, drivers of petrol cars can enjoy cheaper road tax as it has fewer toxic emissions, meaning it also boasts a cleaner engine. However, most importantly for many, petrol vehicles also have a lower acquisition price.
Petrol cars also need less oil changes and are better for both extreme performance and stop-start journeys such as being stuck in traffic.
The case for diesel
So, it's an open-shut case then, judging from the reasons above? After all, cheaper fuel, acquisition and road tax in exchange for better performance look impossible to better. However, in 2005, diesel took a record share of the market - 45 per cent of all vehicles. Such models get bad press for being noisy, smelly and slow off the mark. However, nowadays, they start faster, and are quieter and smoother than ever before.
Diesel cars also provide significantly more miles to the gallon than their competitor and are best for frequent short journeys where the engine barely warms up. Company car drivers should note that
diesel vehicles cost less in company car tax, while bosses will be glad to learn that they are more effective for medium and high mileage fleets.
In spite of their generally higher acquisition pieces, diesel-fuelled vehicles sell for more and also comprise a strong fuel economy and low benefit in kind tax thanks to reduced emissions.
Martin Burke continues: "It is clear from looking at the case for each, that there is no categorical right or wrong choice. Drivers must ask themselves which would better suit their circumstance. For someone travelling a relatively low annual mileage, a petrol-fuelled vehicle is clearly the better option. However, for drivers racking up a medium to high number of miles will be pleasantly surprised by the miles to the gallon a diesel provides."