Tax on fuel was increased by 2 pence per litre from Monday, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling fulfilling a pledge made in the budget earlier this year.
It is the first of three annual increases announced in the budget.
The result is that petrol and diesel prices have been pushed ever closer to the £1-per-litre mark – and there are warnings that fuel prices will continue to rise thanks to the price of crude oil increasing.
It means that fleet managers will need to use all tools at their disposal – technology, training and reducing business mileage – to haul in expenditure.
News of the surge in fuel prices comes at a time when new research reveals the majority of company car drivers shop for fuel on convenience rather than price.
Research by fuel management company Arval found that of 700 drivers questioned on their choice of refuelling location, 63% said the decision was down to convenience.
Only 15% admitted that their choice was motivated by price – closely followed by 11% who chose to refuel at a station where they could use their loyalty card.
Mike Waters, head of market analysis at Arval, said: “These results clearly reveal the ‘it’s not my money mentality’ is alive and well among business drivers and the vast majority remain unwilling to change their behaviour.”
And AA Business Services has warned that autumn driving, where vehicles traditionally use more fuel because of increased use of heaters and lights, will add to the problem.
Paul Watters, head of AA public affairs, said: “There are a number of straightforward short-term steps companies can take to help reduce fuel costs.
These include exercising better control of the fleet’s overall mileage and providing efficient-driver training.
“With the prospect of petrol and diesel reaching the £1-per-litre mark just around the corner, a concerted fuel efficiency strategy could bring serious dividends for the average fleet manager.”
Analysing drivers’ fuel returns will also help pinpoint drivers with a heavy right foot, identify fuel fraud and also highlight if non-approved fuel – such as super unleaded – is being bought.
~FNN_ART_SPLIT# Jason Francis, managing director of fleet software provider Jaama, added: “Fuel is one of the biggest expenses facing business and it is essential that fleet bosses police purchasing and usage effectively.
“Vehicles are the lifeblood of many businesses, so it is essential that with fuel prices escalating management cost controls are in place.”