At a time with generally increasing costs, fuel prices have regularly hit the headlines breaking records with new highest pence-per-litre figures over the past few months and weeks.
Despite the UK Government reducing fuel duty, prices have already exceeded the savings this would have brought about, highlighting the need for fleets and drivers to do all they can to minimise fuel costs. So what strategies are available to fleets?
A crucial tool in the arsenal of any fleet manager, fuel cards can help easily keep track of fuel costs, as well as offer access to discounted fuel rates. Available for small or large businesses, a number of fuel cards are accepted at the majority of the UK’s forecourts.
By reducing admin, cutting fuel costs, and capping budgets, fuel cards can help fleet managers monitor fuel expenses.
Controlling purchasing sites
Fuel costs vary region-to-region, and retailer-to-retailer, and sometimes it’s not worth driving further to find a fractionally cheaper forecourt. However, by being aware of costs in the area, and planning fuel stops ahead, it’s relatively easy for drivers to get a good price for their fuel, especially by using supermarket fuel stations.
There are also good rules of thumb, such as avoiding expensive motorway services. Unless absolutely necessary, these are never the best option for keeping refuelling costs to a minimum, and better value can usually be found even only a short distance from a motorway junction.
Monitoring fuel consumption
Telematics can provide huge amounts of data for fleet managers and drivers to see where savings can be made by personnel. Often, the best way to save fuel costs is to invest in the driver, ensuring they are able to drive efficiently.
Telematics can help track driving style and speed, giving important tools to managers and drivers as to where efficiency can be improved on the road.
Schedule routine maintenance
Although it’s easy to start skipping regular checks of vehicles, it’s actually more important that the time is still taken when costs are rising to ensure that the vehicle is able to be as efficient as possible, particularly during a period when vehicles may be on extended leases. It’s also worth noting that fleet managers should be proactive in booking in regular maintenance in advance, since there is continuing pressure on booking slots at dealers and service centres.
By ensuring fluid levels such as oil are topped up, and that air pressures are correct takes only a few minutes, but keeping these elements in optimum range easily helps boost fuel economy. Instilling in the driver a need to keep a check on these, as well as making sure that the load area is empty of anything not needed on a trip, or removing roof rails for example, can all help improve weight or aerodynamics, with savings quickly adding up.
Analyse vehicle fleet
There is a chance that vehicles could be replaced with more efficient models, particularly for fleets with older models on the books. By switching an old vehicle for a newer version, or even switching to hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or pure-electric power, fuel costs can be brought down further.
The cost of switching needs to be taken into account, but there is a good chance that some fleet managers will have the option to move on their least efficient models and replace them with far more economical vehicles.
Peter Golding, managing director of management firm FleetCheck, says: “The fuel duty reduction caused a short term fall in pump prices but they are now back above previous highs, showing that upwards pressure remains. Further help from the Government seems unlikely in the short term at least, so it is very much down to fleets to keep pursuing fuel fundamentals.
“What we’d underline is that we’re definitely seeing results from the fleets with which we work that have adopted basic fuel management strategies over the last few months in response to rising fuel prices. They are not able to neutralise the increases entirely, of course, but they are able to minimise their impact.
“Core measures such as adopting a fuel card, controlling where purchasing is taking place, inhibiting fraud and monitoring driver fuel consumption are all having a positive effect for businesses. This is an issue that can be managed successfully with a proactive attitude.”
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