Fleet News

Three-quarters of fleets feeling the petrol pinch as fuel prices on the increase again

CONTROVERSIAL claims that increasing fuel prices could be driving smaller companies to bankruptcy have been dismissed by fleet experts. Research carried out by Minorplanet, the Leeds-based supplier of vehicle management information systems, found that 73% of clients surveyed were worried about the effects of higher fuel prices on their businesses.

Fleet operators surveyed said although the high cost of fuel is hurting, they are able to absorb the cost with three quarters of fleet owners and haulage companies saying fuel prices are 'cause for great concern' with some fearing bankruptcy.

But Stewart Whyte, director of ACFO, said fleet operators had ample room to cut costs before going to the wall: 'If people were allowed to buy gas-guzzlers a few years ago, when it was already known that the fuel escalator would be increasing prices, then they are guilty of ignoring strong commercial, fiscal and environmental messages. 'If they are suffering today because of the price of fuel, it's probably nothing compared with the losses in residual values of gas-guzzlers bought a few years ago.

This week Shell and Esso increased pump prices by 2p a litre (8.8p a gallon), but BP cut prices by 2p in some parts of the country, where it is in competition with supermarkets. The increase takes a typical price of a litre of Shell unleaded petrol to 83.5p (£3.79 a gallon) compared with 77.9p (£3.54) at many supermarkets - a difference of about £2 for a full tank of fuel.

Oil industry commentators are again predicting the £4 gallon before the end of the year as international prices hit new highs.

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