Fleet News

***SPECIAL REPORT***How to beat the fuel crisis

Association of Car Fleet Operators director and managing director of Fleet Audits Stewart Whyte has issued the following advice to fleet managers wanting to maintain their operations as best they can:

By now, it is highly likely that many of your drivers have been affected by the non-availability of fuel in many parts of the country. The way things are shaping, it might not be long before most of your drivers are inconvenienced, delayed or even off the road altogether. Even if the dispute is resolved in the next day or so, it will take some time for things to get "back to normal".

Click here for the Government's list of designated priority filling stations. Please be patient, this site is very busy!

DAY-TO-DAY SURVIVAL

Try these tips to keep you and your drivers in business:

  • Restrict driving to essential journeys only.

  • If the have to drive, advise drivers to start looking for an open filling station once the gauge gets below the halfway mark

  • Discourage any form of “panic buying” or hoarding – there could be problems with insurance

  • Instruct all drivers to locate – and read “the drivers” handbook for their car

  • Swapping fuels:

  • Petrol cars – if normal unleaded is not available

  • super unleaded can be used – but it is much more expensive

  • Lead Replacement Petrol – Do not use in a petrol car with a catalytic converter!

  • Diesel cars at least in the short term, can use any of the diesel fuels (ie City diesel, Ultra Low Sulphur diesel etc)

  • LPG – wipe the smug smile off your face now that everyone else has to spend ages looking for a suitable re-fuelling site!

  • Finally, use the web constructively if you have access to it. As at this morning, the AA, Radio 5 Live and PHH have what appears to be up to date and regular new input, about the situation.

STRATEGY OPPORTUNITIES

OK, so this is right up our street. For years we have been saying that all fleets need to look closely at fuel costs, fuel use, and how the fleet fits into the corporate strategy. If the current fuel availability problem persists for more than a few more days, most people will begin to see just why we have been banging this particular drum for so long. Here are five tips to help you turn a problem into an opportunity:

1 Collect the statistics and evidence about how fuel costs and volumes change during the period of this dispute, as against “normal” times. Use this information to consider how much unnecessary mileage might be generated

2 Get the Motorvate information – the Government-backed scheme to help businesses reduce fuel costs and run a cleaner fleet. For “cleaner”, read also “cheaper”. Motorvate Link.

3 Take a fresh look at dual fuel cars – as mentioned above, the current situation brings many drivers down to the same position of those of us who have tried the LPG/ dual fuel opportunities. It still may not be the perfect solution – but if you are serious about cutting your fuel bills, you don't need to wait for the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to back down!

4 Monitor your accident rate as against the norm. If it goes down, it could be significant evidence of the benefits of just easing back on the throttle a little. You cannot afford to ignore such signs and signals.

5 Don't assume that we have heard the last of this. Whatever the UK Government does about fuel duties and taxation, fuel prices are going up because of world wide factors over which you, as fleet manager, have absolutely no control. You need right now – to start thinking of how you can minimise these impacts in the coming months, years – and even decades.

Whether your fleet is fully expensed, or drivers pay for their own private fuel, remember that a company car that is supposed to be a benefit and a motivating influence, is just a pile of metal if it doesn't have any fuel in the tank. If you have not already begun to address your allocation policy in the light of the forthcoming changes to Benefit in Kind taxation, the practical, on-the-ground difficulties over fuel supplies should now encourage you to think long and hard about the issues.

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