Will HVO fuel the future?

HVO fuel, or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, is one of the many alternative fuels gaining popularity in the UK’s journey to becoming carbon-neutral. The government’s upcoming ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030 has left many weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of using HVO fuel to power their fleet.

A huge advantage is that, for most diesel users, HVO fuel doesn’t require purchasing new vehicles or significantly changing a company’s infrastructure in order for fleets to use it as a fuel source. This makes it an easy-to-implement choice for reducing your fleet’s carbon footprint. But what is HVO fuel?

What is HVO fuel?


HVO fuel is a low-carbon alternative to diesel. Also known as green diesel or renewable diesel, the use of HVO fuels can cut a vehicle’s carbon emissions down by 90%.

HVO itself is a second-generation biofuel. The first generation of biofuels was a step towards sustainable fuels and offered options such as bioethanol or biodiesel. The second generation contains even more advanced options, such as HVO fuel.

What is HVO fuel made of?


HVO fuel is made of vegetable oils and animal fats and is mostly manufactured from food waste.


The first generation of biofuels boasted a huge reduction in the use of fossil fuels and reduced carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the fact that they were manufactured from food products created friction between the food production and fuel industries over limited supplies. The development of HVO fuels worked to solve this problem.


In HVO manufacture, the oils are hydrotreated for a process with lower carbon emissions and can be used for diesel engines with little to no modification. As well as helping solve the food supply issue, this will also reduce global food waste, making HVO fuel an overall attractive option for those considering the environmental impact of their business.

Can fleets use HVO fuel?


With the diesel vehicles currently on the market not requiring major modifications to use HVO fuel, it looks like a viable and attractive fuel option for fleets. Speedy announced in 2021 that they would be moving to use HVO fuel to power their commercial fleet going forwards.

“Our fuel usage comprises the largest part of the business’s carbon footprint, making it a priority area for us to take action. Reducing emissions in our delivery fleet helps customers to make big gains in decarbonising their supply chain, reducing the overall carbon footprint of their projects.”

Mike DeRome, head of fuel at Speedy

Speedy isn’t alone. Many large fleets, with national operations, have begun trialling or implementing HVO fuels into their fleets over the past year. These companies include Evri, Travis Perkins, and Wren Kitchens.

HVO fuel vs Electric


When looking to the future, electric vehicles (or EVs) are seen as the primary option for fleets. In fact, FleetNews’ 2022 poll asking readers what their next company car would be showed that 51.9% favoured pure electric vehicles, with only 16.5% opting for diesel.


However, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse has warned against relying entirely on EVs moving forwards. In 2022, we saw the economic consequences, throughout Europe, of sanctions imposed on Russia’s crude oil exports after their invasion of Ukraine. We also saw the knock-on effects of microchip shortages in China causing delays in vehicle manufacture and purchasing. Both of these events highlighted the dangers of becoming dependent on a limited number of countries for necessary resources.


This is why it’s important that those considering the future vehicles for their fleet examine the variety of alternative fuels available. HVO fuel also offers a number of benefits that electric vehicles don’t.

Benefits of HVO fuel


HVO fuel has many advantages that make it a viable replacement for diesel, some of which are:

● Refuelling with HVO is like refuelling with diesel: you simply need to refill the tank. When compared to electric vehicles’ much slower charging method, HVO fuel could potentially save fleets a great deal of time.

HVO fuels can be used in most diesel engines without prior modification and without negatively affecting engine health. The fact that HVO use can be implemented across a fleet without major infrastructural changes would make the potential rollout much smoother than the rollout of electric vehicles, which would require the vehicles themselves, instead of just the fuel type, to be changed.

● HVO also features a much higher cetane rating than conventional diesel, which means that the starting power of the fuel is much greater.

● The long shelf life and easy storage of HVO fuel is also a benefit. It withstands wintry weather very well, making long-term storage easier to maintain.

What are the problems with HVO fuel?

This is not to say that HVO fuel is not without disadvantages. Fleet managers have been made wary due to:


● The current limited availability of HVO fuels on the market.


The potentially negative environmental effects that may come into play when switching to a new fuel source, even one with a lower carbon footprint. When the first generation of biofuels rolled out, the industry realised that moving our fuel dependency from fossil fuels to fuels grown on land has a high likelihood of increasing deforestation.


The higher price. Although this varies depending on the supplier and the current market, HVO fuel usually comes with a higher price point than traditional diesel or charging an electric car, although the cost of purchasing EVs also needs to be considered by fleet managers.

Is HVO fuel right for me?


Overall, HVO fuel is a valid and attractive choice for those looking for ways to reduce the carbon emissions of their fleet. It’s important to make sure that you are aware of the range of options available, so you can make informed decisions about your supply moving forwards. For more advice on insight into the fuel industry, make sure to keep up to date with our blog. For advice on your fleet’s fuel usage and fuel card solution, give us a call today.

Fleet Buying in a Changing World

It’s no secret that the past two years have been tough for those managing fleets. Lockdowns, fuel price surges, and driver shortages have left the industry reeling and many fleet managers asking about the future of diesel and petrol fleets. With the incoming government regulations for the UK to reach net zero by 2050 including banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, those in charge of fleet buying are now beginning to look to the future. 


While it isn’t realistic to expect a fleet to roll out electric vehicles (or EVs) en masse, when buying for your fleet, it is now a good time to be looking at filtering in EVs. Previously, electric vehicles have been both challenging to procure and difficult to facilitate for long journeys. So, should fleets switch to electric vehicles?

Should I move away from petrol and diesel when buying fleet vehicles?


The government policies to reduce carbon emissions are being put in place with the aim of lessening the consequences of climate change before the world reaches a “point of no return”.


The most widely discussed and commonly known advantage of electric vehicles is their lack of exhaust emissions. This is of vital importance to the reduction of the effects of climate change and the wellbeing of future generations. This means that, when fleet buying, it will not only be a morally influenced decision to go green, but one of legal obligation and logistical necessity.


In addition to this, as a result of the environmental crisis, customers are now considering companies’ green policies and actions when looking at who they’re spending with. At the same time, they are still wanting fast delivery and service. Fleetnews have stated that 80% shoppers want same day shipping, at the same time, 81% customers want companies to work towards helping the environment.


This means that companies need to be environmentally aware yet able to operate at their previous capacity in order to please their consumer base. With this in mind, it is best for fleet managers to consider introducing electric or hybrid vehicles into their fleets in a phased approach to minimize any disruptions to their operations.


Can an electric vehicle save me money?


More recently, fleet managers operating fleets using petrol and diesel vehicles will have been feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices. During the first quarter of 2022, fuel prices rose to their highest rate since 2008 due to a variety of factors. This rise in prices has made the prospect of turning away from fossil fuels even more appealing to many fleet managers.


Notably, electric vehicles generally benefit from lower running costs. EVs require less maintenance than traditional diesel or petrol vehicles due to the decreased number of moving parts within their engines. There is also no need for costly and time-consuming oil changes. As well as saving you money on the upfront cost of repairs, this also reduces operational downtime and keeps your fleet on the road.


However, the comparison between the price to refuel a diesel or petrol vehicle and the price to recharge an EV is a bit of a tempestuous subject. Which is better value for the upfront refuelling/recharging price fluctuates depending on the market prices of oil vs electricity.


Saying this, on average, it does usually cost less to charge an EV. Wilsons previously estimated that, for those with a 30-minute daily commute, an EV could save them up to £850 per year, but bear in mind that this may not accurately reflect the savings for fleet use. When buying, it’s best to assess this on a business-by-business basis.

Planning the move to electric


When moving your fleet to electric and hybrid vehicles, make sure you have time to manage a considered and careful transition.


The best way to approach this change would be to assess your current fleet and see if there are any vehicles that are costing you more in repairs then they are perhaps worth. If you source your vehicles through a provider or vehicle management service, get in touch with your account manager to discuss the range of more sustainable models available that would suit your fleets needs moving forwards.


There will be a stage of trial and error when it comes to finding out which electric or hybrid vehicles are right for you and your fleet, but you’ll find that, in the long run, the transition is worth it both financially and logistically.


You will also need to plan how your drivers will charge their vehicles. Previously, fleet managers have been hesitant to switch to EVs due to the lower amount of charge points compared to fuel stations. However, between 2019 and 2023, the number of EV models available has been predicted to double and the rollout of charge points is constantly increasing the ability to charge vehicles on the go. The ever-increasing amount of charge points across the country will help fleets during the transition away from petrol and diesel in the coming years.


If on the road, you’ll find that fuel cards are, of course, still available for electric vehicles. Our Chargemate fuel card offers access to the expanding network of charge points whilst still giving you access to the comprehensive fleet services we provide.


If you would like any help with your future fleet buying and options, or would like us to run our personalised analysis on your current fuel spend free of charge, get in touch today.

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