Is diesel really better?

It is a question that can leave any fleet manager scratching their head - is a diesel engine really better than a petrol one?

Vehicles with diesel engines have always been touted as a cheaper option, especially given the perpetual rise in petrol prices nowadays. Many drivers look to diesel as a way of cutting costs.

However, popular car review website warns that it is important to sit down and carefully consider whether going diesel is the right decision for you and your fleet. editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says that there is a slew of factors you should consider before choosing which type of vehicle to procure for your fleet, such as fuel consumption, operating costs and mileage.

He points out that diesel vehicles are more expensive to purchase, due to the high cost of building their engines.

The high upfront procurement cost can therefore outweigh any savings gained on lower fuel prices down the line, depending on how much you travel.

Matthew-Wilson puts it quite bluntly: "Multiple studies have concluded that the average driver is actually worse off with a diesel vehicle."

He says that you will only really feel the full benefits of a diesel if you are going to cover more than 40,000 km a year.

While diesel offers the benefits of greater fuel efficiency, lower gas prices and a smaller carbon footprint, diesel vehicles require stringent maintenance, and repair costs can be very high.

However, a proper fleet maintenance regime can allow you to bring the best out of your diesels and save on costs.

Software for fleet management can also help you track exactly when your vehicles need servicing, and also their impact on the environment.

In sum, petrol remains the better option for private owners of small cars and vans who will not travel long distances, but you may want to consider diesel if you have a large commercial fleet that will cover a lot of ground.