Fleet News

Fleets urged to plan as fuel prices surge

FLEETS are being urged to introduce contingency plans to cope with problems caused if the price of fuel rockets, as has been predicted.

The average price of a litre of unleaded fuel now stands at 82p and experts are predicting further rises and warning fleets that costs will soar to £4 a gallon or 88p a litre.

Prices have surged by more than 5p a litre since the beginning of this year and experts are advising fleets to keep a vigilant check on fuel costs.

Mike Waters, head of market analysis at Arval PHH, said: ‘Companies can introduce a target pricing policy that instructs their business drivers not to buy fuel at petrol stations where it costs more than a certain level. Provided employees have access to the full range of retailers, they can pick and choose, filling up only at the cheapest sites.

‘This should be combined with measures that reduce fuel consumption and systems to identify high cost areas. Given how much companies spend on fuel, it is astonishing that so many still do not have processes in place to control those costs.’

Fleets filling up at the start of the year were paying about 76p a litre but the price increases have added thousands of pounds to an average fleet’s fuel bill.

For a 100-vehicle fleet, each doing 10,000 business miles a year at 45mpg, the increase in prices since the beginning of January has added almost £5,000 to annual fuel bills.

Arval PHH has analysed the prices of both unleaded and diesel during the past year and says it is vital that drivers fill up at the cheapest stations.

Waters said: ‘Businesses should shop around to find the lowest pump prices as it is not unusual to find variations of up to seven or eight pence per litre.’

The RAC is also encouraging drivers to shop around for the best fuel price. It has recommended fleet decision makers to encourage staff to drive sensibly.

A spokeswoman said: ‘A light touch on the throttle, slowing down gradually towards lights, not revving up the engine away from the lights and a smooth driving style could see a reduction in fuel bills of up to 30%.’

However, surging oil prices are not all bad news and could even have a positive impact on diesel fleets at disposal time, according to one company.

Mark Winch, Vehicle Remarketing Solutions’ (VRS) commercial director, claims rising oil prices are fuelling demand for diesel vehicles.

He said: ‘The increasing price of oil is driving demand for diesel vehicles, which are becoming the engine of choice for both private and fleet motorists.

‘We are continuing to see diesel vehicles performing well, especially the premium brands, and this survey supports our belief that the trend will continue.’

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