Fleet News

Guest opinion: we don’t have to lose money to fuel hikes

WITH a recent fuel price hike of around 12% in only three months, it is not surprising that if companies have not reviewed reimbursement rates company car drivers are starting to feel the pinch, putting pressure on management to find a quick fix solution but remain within budget.

The suggestion of negotiating with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to temporarily increase the rate of reimbursement as outlined in the Fleet NewsNet article ‘Fuel prices spark HMRC fuel deal’ (October 6) may keep drivers happy but is guaranteed to put pressure on fleet budgets. And this is only a short-term solution and one that does not address the underlying problem of rising costs.

With the promise of any fuel costs being reimbursed it is difficult to persuade most company car drivers to switch to a more fuel efficient vehicle, especially if, as the article suggests, it is those in the smallest-engine vehicles that are bearing the brunt of rising costs (HMRC only raised rates for vehicles over 2,000cc in July).

‘Fuel efficient’ for many also equals smaller and it is not a popular manager who demands an employee opts for a smaller car when choosing their next vehicle.

However, there is an easier and longer term solution that does not require a sudden change in vehicle and is particularly relevant to sorting out the problem of reduced fuel efficiency in stop-start traffic.

Often described as ‘eco-driving’, the Energy Saving Trust offers free advice and tips for increasing fuel efficiency, reducing maintenance costs while cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The following simple steps can help every company car driver improve mpg and ease the pressure on their wallets and the company fleet budget.

  • Drive defensively – avoiding harsh acceleration and heavy braking where possible. Pulling away too fast uses up to 60% more fuel.
  • Use the gearbox efficiently – changing gear at a more modest engine speed can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15%.
  • Drive off immediately when starting from cold – idling to heat the engine wastes fuel and causes rapid engine wear.
  • Stick to speed limits and make your fuel go further – excessive speed impacts significantly on fuel economy.
  • If you are stuck in a jam, switch off – turning off the engine after two minutes will save fuel and cut all emissions.
  • When not needed switch off your air conditioning or switch to the economy setting and save 5-10% of fuel.
  • Plan your journey carefully to avoid congestion, road works and getting lost. A longer or congested journey is a more costly journey.
  • Carry out routine checks regularly and ensure your car is regularly serviced and well maintained. Check your tyre pressure regularly; under-inflated tyres wear out more quickly and can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.

  • For more information, visit: www.est.org.uk/fleet
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