When running a fleet of vehicles, its often discussed whether it is best to buy or lease vehicles. Which way is more cost effective? 

For those who choose to buy their fleet vehicles, we've taken a look at four categories of vehicles to see which choices make the best financial sense.

The most financially astute buy may not be simply the vehicle with the highest official mpg figure. Electric and hybrid cars have a very high purchase price. The long-term financial viability of a vehicle depends on the real-life mpg, insurance, tax, other running costs and, of course, depreciation.

Small car

The new Peugeot 208 1.6 Blue HDi has a claimed combined fuel consumption of 94mpg, making it the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid you can buy. But other costs, like insurance and depreciation, make the little French diesel hatchback less of a long-term prospect than the lesser-known Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ2. Forget flair, this is a simple five-door city car designed to be cheap to run. But it’s well equipped with air-con, Bluetooth and DAB, costs less than £8,000 and has superb Japanese reliability and re-sale value. Experts calculate that the Celerio is the UK’s cheapest new vehicle to own for three years.

Estate car

Need a van and a car? An estate can fulfil both functions. But which makes the most long-term financial sense? The UK’s most economic estate is the Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC with a claimed consumption of 74mpg. But What Car? discovered the real consumption is 61mpg and it has a high purchase price.

Instead, we’ve opted for the new Skoda Rapid Spaceback. This isn’t just the UK’s cheapest estate to run, it’s the least expensive family-sized car of any sort. Look at the 1.2 TSI 90S. It has a big tailgate, stylish design and returns almost 66mpg. Running costs and reliability are excellent.

Executive car

If you only look at fuel consumption figures you’ll choose a hybrid, like the Lexus IS 300h. It’s certainly a refined, sporty saloon and claims a combined economy of 64mpg. But motor industry experts who calculate three-year ownership costs including everything from wipers blades to resale value have picked an unlikely champion in this category: the Jaguar XF 2.0d. The sleek big cat has a total cost of ownership over three years of £17,888, which is less than £500 a month.

Van

Choosing the most cost-effective van is hard because different companies have such different requirements. So we’ve just focused on the biggest cost to the buyer: which van retains most value after three years? The LCV experts at parkers.co.uk have recently looked at this fall in value and picked the Ford Transit Connect as the small van that retains most its value after three years.

The popular Ford is worth 31.5% of its new value after three years.

The VW Transporter is the lowest depreciator among medium vans, retaining an impressive 37% of value and the Mercedes Sprinter looses least value among the large vans. 

Conclusion

So whichever vehicle(s) you decide to buy for your fleet if you do decide to buy, ensure you look at total value for money, not just the obvious cost. The cost of running a vehicle or many can be crippling if you don't choose wisely, so as we've detailed above, take a look at as many areas as possible such as mpg, cost of running, how it holds its value and reliability.