New research suggests that a tankful of fuel can cost up to £5 more every time a driver fills up at a motorway service station compared to other forecourts around the country. This could mean high-mileage drivers costing their companies an extra £300 each every year. Fleet executives are now being urged to monitor drivers' fuel purchases or face paying dearly.
The warning comes from Castle Fuel Cards, which surveys local price variations for its monthly Fuel-cards.co.uk Regional Fuel Price Report.
Fuel card manager Teresa Maynard said: 'We can see from transaction data captured by our cards that many fleet drivers are still regularly filling up with petrol at 82 pence per litre (ppl) on motorways. That is a huge unnecessary cost to their employer when petrol is available at less than 73.5p per litre. We are urging our customers to keep a close eye on the regular transaction reports they get with our fuel cards. It is a particular problem with high mileage drivers. They can easily add £250 to £350 a year per car to the fleet fuel bill if they routinely stop for fuel on motorways.'
Castle Fuel Cards believes that fleets have become less conscious of fuel prices because they have fallen since a high that sparked the fuel protests in 2000.
'Recent fuel cost reductions are one-off savings,' Maynard said. 'And with wide differences in fuel prices, uncontrolled purchasing could send fuel costs spiralling.'
The company estimates that for a fleet of 150 cars, the difference between buying the highest and lowest-priced fuel could be anywhere from £25,000 to £50,000 a year depending on mileage and the petrol/diesel mix of the fleet.
Across the industry it could top £300 million.
The warning comes soon after the fleet industry was told it will be forced to pay the Treasury a massive £100 million extra a year following Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's fuel duty hike, imposed in October. The price of a litre of fuel increased by 1.28ppl, a move that pushed the price of petrol up to almost 80ppl.
The increase, equivalent to 5.8 pence-per-gallon (ppg), when spread across three million company cars averaging 35mpg and travelling 60,000 miles over a three-year operating cycle means an increase of £300 million in fuel costs over the next three years.
|Fuel cost differences|
|Motorway price||Non-motorway price||Tankful difference*|
|Lockerbie M74 81.8p||Asda, Carlisle 73.7p||£5.26|
|Lancaster M6 81.8p||Tesco, Lancaster 73.7p||£5.26|
|Ilkeston M1 81.2p||Tesco, Nottingham 73.8p||£4.81|
|Thurrock M25 80.9p||Waitrose, Southend 72.9p||£5.20|
|Exeter M5 78.9p||Sainsbury, Exeter 74.7p||£2.73|