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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor.

Curbing fuel useage: I have a cunning plan!

Sir – At a time when carbon emissions, driving standards and fuel costs are paramount in many people’s minds, in the words of Lord Blackadder’s mate, Baldrick: ‘I have a cunning plan’ and would like your readers’ views on the subject.

I think it’s fair to say that fleet drivers generally drive their vehicles more ‘enthusiastically’ than do private motorists. Private motorists generally have one eye on their fuel bills, whereas most business drivers are more interested in covering as many miles as possible in a day.

Their fuel bills are normally paid for by their employers so they have less regard for driving with economy in mind. That being so, this is my cunning plan: First, employers should stop paying for their employees’ business fuel (as well as their private fuel). Sacrilege, I know, but hang on a minute.

Second, any fuel used purely for business purposes should be paid for by the employee and then claimed back from the employer (with apologies to the fuel card companies). Reimbursement would be based on an average MPG figure calculated from the vehicle manufacturers’ published fuel consumption figures. Let’s use my own car as an example, a Peugeot 307 SW HDi 110. The manufacturer’s published consumption figures are:

Urban cycle = 44.8
Extra urban cycle = 62.8
Combined drive cycle = 55.3
Average figure = 54.3 mpg

Thus, reimbursement would be based on a target value of 54.3mpg. If the driver achieved a figure lower than this, then reimbursement would be reduced accordingly, using a sliding scale based on that shortfall. Anything over the target value would result in full reimbursement of the employee’s fuel costs. Actual fuel consumption could be easily calculated from mileage and fuel receipts. The driver would thereby be penalised for failing to achieve the required consumption figure.

You might say that these published figures are impossible to achieve in the real world, but my trip computer is presently telling me that I am achieving a figure of 52.3 on my present tankful, and 50.4 over a 5,000 mile period – and that’s without employing any special fuel-saving driving techniques.

Certainly, I don’t tear away from a standstill, or leave braking until the last moment and I accelerate gradually rather than rapidly, always using anticipation as my key. Conversely, I still do 75 on a motorway and drive at the legal limits on other roads. If I were to use special techniques, I believe that I could achieve figures closer to the average shown above.

By employing controls similar to this, we might see lower fuel consumption and persuade business drivers to drive more carefully and with greater consideration for other road users.

Robins & Day Leasing

Playing silly games? No, I’m just doing a decent fleet job

Sir – I wish to respond to the letter from Richard Kimber (Fleet News February 9) in which various comments were made and two questions posed in the article ‘Tendering – it’s time to get tough’.

The first question was: ‘Why ask for a contract hire quote wasting everyone’s time including her own, if she doesn’t actually want one?’.

I never request quotes or information unless I need it – the point that I was making is that very often during the process you have to change specifications, length of contract, mileage or vehicles to ensure the contract funding process is at a manageable level for your business.

This process can give a good indication of how a supplier performs under pressure – something that is important in a fast working/high pressure environment.

As for challenging my honesty, this and my integrity are hugely important to me and I pride myself on them both.

I would ask that suppliers respect the procurement process and see it for what it is – the aim to treat suppliers equally in a competitive business environment and allow everyone the opportunity to quote for the same products and services, up-front, clearly and honestly.

Suppliers are under no obligation to participate in tenders if they do not wish to do so, but this is becoming an increasingly standard way of conducting business. I have long-standing relationships with my suppliers and many of them actively seek my comments and time to help them to improve the way their business works.

This would not happen if they felt I wasted their time in any way. I do not agree that there isn’t a great deal of trust between suppliers and vendors – from my experience it is not always easy and it needs to be developed and worked on by both parties but when it is achieved it works extremely well.

In terms of the other content of Mr Kimber’s letter:

  • Price checking is highly relevant to customers and it should also be to suppliers to ensure competitiveness has not been taken over by complacency.
  • When a service is tendered, it is done so with the specific aim to appoint a contract. The process assists the customer in gathering valuable information from suppliers in the same format, thus enabling a fair comparison and resulting in a decision – how or if a business submits a tender or prices their product is entirely their decision.
  • We are all in business to make money and do not expect anyone to put their business at risk. Cost is not everything – business ethics, customer service, processes, response times, knowledge and flexibility are equally important.

    Many of us are all under increasing pressure to reduce our costs and I work hard to create long-lasting effective partnerships with suppliers which are key to helping achieve savings. Suppliers must be challenged and encouraged to be competitive and offer a cost and quality-effective solution.

    Procurement & facilities manager Maxxium UK

  • Fleet News is delighted to receive readers’ letters. E-mail fleetnews@emap.com or write to: The Editor, Fleet News, Emap Automotive, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA. Please ensure that e-mails include name, job title, company and company address
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