Most economists are predicting a dire 2012 but Britain's Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has engaged in some positive thinking with a 'Fleet Optimists' guide to 2012.Its chief executive John Lewis said: “Business is not going to get any easier in 2012 With economic growth slipping across the world but road transport is essential and vehicle rental and leasing will continue to gain market share."However that depended on businesses and consumers continuing to look for cost-effective solutions.'RESIST PRICE INCREASES'Business registrations dominated UK new-vehicle sales in 2011 at nearly 60%, Lewis said. and a similar figure could be expected in 2012 with emissions-conscious fleet buyers continuing to lead reductions in new-vehicle CO2 emissions.He warned, however: "Business users recognise the advantages of buying newer, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles but only as long as manufacturers resist the urge to push up prices."There is a tipping point when fleets will put off purchases and just run their vehicles for longer.“We are going to see some very interesting competition below the premium brands, with Korean brands in particular challenging existing fleet favourites including Ford and the French carmakers with their much improved build quality, low emissions and after-sale care."Rising demand for contract hire and rental will would, he added, continue to bolster commercial vehicle registrations in the UK, particularly in the van market, which will be boosted by even more growth in the courier and home delivery sector.WILL ELECTRICS LIGHT UP?Lewis also expected more urban dwellers to scorn vehicle ownership in favour of "pay-as-you-go" and, surprisingly perhaps, forecast a resurgence of interest in battery cars after the hype bubble burst in 2011 and only 1000 plug-ins were sold."This could be the year this exciting new technology recovers some of its credibility in Britain," Lewis forecast. "A much wider range of electric cars and vans will be available but will only take off if manufacturers are more realistic on pricing and the state extends the incentive grant scheme to electric vans.“The new range-extender Ampera and Volt are attractive prospects for company car fleets, as are the next generation of diesel hybrids and plug-in hybrids. As much as 80% of these vehicles could end up in fleets."