Julie Fitzell, head of environmental standards at Qdell and LHR Express, a private hire and courier company, has simply taken a “common sense approach” to fleet management.
Fitzell is responsible for fleet strategy – determining the types of vehicle, what training to put drivers through, how the company monitors CO2 and what systems are used to reduce ‘dead’ mileage (journeys without a passenger in).
An ongoing challenge is that the majority of the fleet’s 138 vehicles are owned by the drivers.
Fitzell has had to put policies in place where vehicles are changed frequently (every three to five years, depending on the vehicle’s use).
She has also had to find ways to encourage drivers to opt for alternative-fuel vehicles.
“The drivers pay fees every week through us to get work and we offer discounts on the fees for the type of vehicles they have,” explains Fitzell. “So if someone buys an electric or hybrid car they get a discount.”
Drivers that opt for diesel vehicles are incentivised to use biofuel (made from 100% recycled cooking oil) which Qdell purchases in bulk and stores on-site.
“We supply them biofuel at a subsidised rate, but we also give them five free litres of fuel a week,” says Fitzell.
“Every 40 litres they buy we give them another five litres free, so in theory it’s cheaper than buying diesel at the pump. They’re getting the potential of an extra 10 litres a week.”
All of the vehicles owned by the company run on 100% biofuel at least 80% of the time. Owner-drivers are encouraged to run on at least a 30% mix.
Fitzell admits that initially there were a few problems with biofuel because the oil wasn’t refined enough, but there have been no further issues.
“You can’t just bring in a brand new car and put 100% biofuel in straight away,” she says.
“It’s a case of slowly increasing it. If you do it gradually and you’re changing the air filters and having the car checked and serviced regularly, it’s not a problem.”
Fleet News (FN): What sort of range are you getting from your electric vehicles?
Julie Fitzell (JF): The electric scooter is supposed to do 70 miles, but we’re lucky if we can get 35-40 miles so we use it for local courier work.
The range for the car and van isn’t far off the manufacturer figures.
The problem we’ve got is the first part of most of our journeys is on the M4 and the electric gets guzzled up. It also comes down to driving styles.