Fleet News

Green best practice brings major savings

The link is clear: a green fleet is a cost-efficient fleet. Any company which takes action to tackle CO2 emissions, whether by choosing lower emitting cars, reducing mileage, training drivers or removing the grey fleet, will see its fleet costs fall as a direct consequence.

The Energy Saving Trust exists to help businesses to reduce their impact on the environment. For company fleets it has set up the Motorvate programme (see panel, page 36).
With fuel prices at unprecedented levels, companies are coming under more pressure to cut both costs and carbon emissions.

The Energy Saving Trust calculates that a fleet of 100 cars travelling 15,000 miles a year could save up to £15,000 a year by implementing green initiatives.

For a similarly sized 3.5-tonne van fleet, the potential annual savings swell to £26,000.

With that in mind, Fleet News, together with the Energy Saving Trust, takes a look at some of the examples of best practice in cutting costs and carbon from Motorvate members.

Switching to more efficient vehicles

Company North Yorkshire Police (Motorvate certified)
Fleet 516 vehicles (90% diesel) including 200 vans, 12 motorcycles and 200 bicycles
Head of transport Richard Flint

Rising fuel costs and pressure induced by Government spending cuts encouraged North Yorkshire Police to focus more closely on wholelife running costs. Large parts of the fleet have been downsized and the rest are under scrutiny.

Despite some resistance from high-performance vehicle users, support from the top of the authority has been strong and this has enabled improvements in fuel economy of up to 50% resulting from the adoption of efficient vehicle replacements.

Over the average four-year/100,000-mile replacement cycle, savings in excess of £1,500 a year per vehicle are being made as a result of switching from Volvo V70 T6 to BMW 530d – and this is rising as fuel prices escalate.

Replacing three Subaru Imprezas with 3.0-litre diesel Audi A4 Avant Quattros is saving £10,000 per vehicle on fuel over the lifecycle.

North Yorkshire Police head of transport Richard Flint says the £500 fee to achieve Motorvate certified status (affiliate membership is free) was well-spent. He says signing up “helped focus minds” and that it “pales into insignificance when we look at the value of the consultancy we have received”.

Implementing mileage reduction targets

Company Hyndburn Borough Council (Motorvate Gold)
Fleet 25 fleet vans and pick-ups; 231 grey fleet vehicles; 1 hybrid mayoral car and 2 electric vans
Head of environmental services Dave Allonby

Hyndburn Borough Council has implemented changes to the process of reclaiming costs for grey fleet mileage and introduced mileage reduction targets for directorates with senior management buy-in. It has resulted in a reduction in emissions of more than 15%.

Mileage claim forms have been revised to include details of vehicles’ CO2 emissions and to indicate if a journey was predominantly urban, rural or motorway. The payroll team produces monthly data to individual, service and directorate mileage levels so performance can be monitored against council targets.

“We have reduced business mileage by 85,000 miles, saving around 34,000 in payments to our grey and lease car users and released 31 tonnes less carbon,” says head of environmental services Dave Allonby.

There are three car subsidy bands based on vehicle emissions. Lower emitting vehicles attract a higher subsidy and 68% of lease cars now fall in to the lower band.

The Corporate Strategy Review contains targets to reduce business mileage by 10% by April 2011 and 25% by April 2013 as well as increase cycling to work and the use by employees of low emission cars.

Route mapping and telematics

Company Commercial Group (Motorvate Gold)
Fleet 38 cars (32 diesel; six petrol), 10 vans
Distribution and logistics manager Rob Paddock

Implementing a Dynamic Route Mapping System, together with improved vehicle technology and logistical practices, has reduced Commercial Group’s total fleet CO2 emissions by nearly 28% between 2007 and 2009.

Annual mileage has fallen by approximately 20% between 2007 and 2009, resulting in fuel savings of £25,000. Three vehicles were removed from the fleet, saving £60,000, with a further £48,000 a year saving in driver salaries.

In addition, the remaining vans are travelling more than 140,000 fewer miles a year.

Distribution and logistics manager Rob Paddock says that these cost benefits and emissions improvements have been made while the business – in office services and procurement – has continued to grow.

Key to cutting costs and emissions is the management of data. As well as the Dynamic Route Mapping System, all vans have telematics with computer mapping software. Remotely located vans optimise the efficiency of travel between delivery points.
Commercial Group has also introduced other actions to cut costs and carbon in the operation of its company fleet: 

  •  Lower carbon/high mpg vehicle choices. Petrol replaced with diesel
  • All vehicles have weekly maintenance check and regularly serviced
  • Driver training including employees with company cars
  • A bike-to-work scheme
  • Car sharing
  • Pool cars to cut grey fleet miles
  • Electric car trials
  • Bunkered biodiesel derived from UK-sourced waste vegetable oil

Improving internal staff transport

Company Northern Lincolnshire & Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Motorvate Silver)
Fleet 82 lease cars; 85 pool cars (around 50% commercials), soon to be supplemented by 124 vehicles with PCT’s transfer to an acute trust. Around 1,200 grey fleet vehicles
Head of transport, car parking & security Jug Johal

A shuttle bus to transport staff between two hospital sites has been a key initiative according to Jug Johal, head of transport, car parking & security at North Lincolnshire & Goole Hospitals NHS Trust.

This alone has cut out more than a million grey fleet miles and £250,000 in travel expenses.
The Trust has introduced a hierarchy of travel options with video/teleconferencing at the top and personal car use at the bottom.

A range of other initiatives have also helped to cut vehicle use, impact and costs in spite of the high rates the NHS pays for personal mileage. These include:

  • Reduced cost car parking for low carbon (sub-100g/km) cars and those using alternative fuels
  • A staff park-and-ride scheme from Scunthorpe
  • Enhanced video and teleconferencing facilities
  • Improved facilities for cyclists and financial benefits at purchase
  • An ‘in-house’ low carbon taxi service to reduce excessive private taxi costs
  • Replacement cars are lowest carbon options

Jug Johal said: “It’s increasingly clear to me that saving carbon saves money.
“Rising fuel prices will focus people more on looking at alternative low cost and low carbon transport choices.”

Maximum CO2 rating for company cars

Company Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) (Motorvate Silver)
Fleet 67 cars (company cars, cash allowances and grey fleet)
HR manager Hilary Hayward

Following the Motorvate review, IGD implemented changes in January 2010. They included:

  • A maximum CO2 rating for all company cars and allowance holders of 160g/km
  • Use of a hire car for grey fleet drivers for trips more than 90 miles
  • Introduction of wholelife cost for employees wishing to opt for company cars
  • Tax calculation provided for drivers looking at car options
  • New expense claim form that captures CO2 emissions data on all forms of UK business travel
  • Promoting public transport and use of web-conferencing

After market adjustments, car emissions from UK business travel fell by 12% against IGD’s 2008 level; mileage travelled has reduced by 8%.

Hilary Hayward, HR manager, IGD says: “Motorvate provides an externally accredited process which not only recognises achievements made to date but also provides help and advice on how further improvements can be made.”

Using technology to reduce travel

Company Denso Sales UK (Motorvate certified)
Fleet 120 cars, 1 van
Senior administrator Caren Miller

Denso Sales introduced video conferencing facilities at its two main sites (Hatfield and Coventry), reducing the need for routine travel for meetings.

The company capped its company car fleet purchases at a maximum of 160g/km of CO2 for all driver bands. From July 2009 it started giving a bonus of up to £15 a month for drivers choosing cars with CO2 emissions of 120g/km or less. Since then 22 of the 50 orders placed qualified for the bonus.

For the period 2009-10, Denso achieved a 9.2% reduction in fleet CO2 emissions compared with the previous year. It has also cut its fuel bill by more than £25,000, despite the rising fuel prices.

Caren Miller, senior administrator at Denso Sales, said: “Most drivers saw that the policy had become more flexible for them by letting them chose the term 36, 48 ot 60 months, and having bonuses in place.”

Parking bonuses for low-carbon vehicles

Company St Edmundsbury Borough Council (Motorvate certified)
Fleet 30 cars including six pool cars. Approx 150 grey fleet cars
Fleet manager Phil Clifford

St Edmundsbury Borough Council introduced car parking charges in the limited space it shares with Suffolk County Council. Charges were waived for cars emitting less than 120g/km of CO2 and car sharers were given the best spaces.

For business journeys, vehicle users follow a seven-step travel hierarchy with video conferencing or use of a council pool bicycles considered first, and public transport above personal car use.
Private cars are only driven on company business as a last resort and the six pool cars can be booked through an online system.

By encouraging the use of pool cars, grey fleet mileage has been falling by more than 70,000 miles a year. Switching from grey fleet to a pool car saves around 5p per mile on average.

Reducing grey fleet mileage

Company Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (Motorvate certified)
Fleet 487 leased cars, 10 pool cars, 160 vans and 1,901 grey fleet vehicles
Sustainable transport manager David Brown

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council has cut miles claimed by employees using their own cars on business through a range of initiatives, including a drive to encourage public transport use alongside a travel plan.

The council has focused on improving public transport provision and its supporting infrastructure. It is considering adopting an updated travel plan which will provide employees with reimbursement equivalent to the cost of making a journey on public transport (via priority bus routes) even if they use their car.

Stockport reduced its grey fleet mileage by around 13% to 1,449,970 miles between 2009-2010, a CO2 emissions reduction of 64,447kg.

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