Fleet News

Fleet management: How to make the most of every litre

THE threat of depleted oil stocks and subsequent hikes in prices makes it even more important for fleets to keep fuel costs as low as possible.

Summary: Fuel saving tips

  • Buy diesel vehicles.
  • Buy fuel from supermarkets.
  • Drive smoothly in as high a gear as possible.
  • Use air conditioning sparingly.
  • Keep windows closed.
  • Rid the car of unnecessary clutter and weight.
  • Turn the engine off when stationary.
  • Plan journeys and drive as little as possible.

    ACCORDING to official statistics, the price of fuel fell in January.

    Average UK petrol costs fell to 87.5p per litre, while diesel dropped to 92.1ppl. Oil prices fell to $53 a barrel, a level last seen in March 2005.

    Cue a collective sigh of relief from anyone feeling the pinch of the costs over recent years. But with the political situation in the Middle East still tense, and dire warnings being issued almost daily about depleting oil stocks, don’t be surprised to see prices continue to fluctuate.

    Fleet funding company Alphabet says that if prices follow recent trends, they are likely to reach £1.25 over the next two to three years.

    Whatever the size of your fleet, fuel is likely to be one of the biggest expenses over the course of the year.

    If the current drive to reduce carbon emissions isn’t enough to convince you to closely manage your fuel expenditure, then for cost reasons alone it’s a good idea to do everything you can to get the most miles out of each litre.

    DIESEL RULES

    THE quickest way to make an impact on how much your fleet drinks is to make sure that as many vehicles as possible run on diesel.

    Diesel cars are more expensive, as is the fuel itself, but vehicles running on the fuel will get better fuel economy and emit less carbon – in the long run, the extra initial cost will more than pay for itself and the vehicle will be likely to fetch more than its petrol equivalent come remarketing time.

    Alphabet estimates that replacing a petrol company car with a diesel could save £1,000 at the pumps over a three-year fleet life.

    The average diesel car manages around nine miles on a litre of fuel, compared to about seven for petrol power. At a fuel cost of £1 a litre, petrol costs 14p a mile and diesel only 11p.

    More and more fleets are heading towards diesel. During 2006 the number of diesel-only policies rose, with 33% of fleets adopting them compared to 31% in 2005 according to fleet and fuel management company Arval.

    The firm’s research also shows that 61% of fleets say the move to diesel has led to an overall reduction in fuel spend – the average saving is quoted as 15% of the annual fuel expenditure.

    Mike Waters, Arval’s head of market analysis, says: ‘The further increase in diesel-only policies demonstrates that the fuel efficiency and tax benefits available with diesel vehicles continue to win the argument against petrol vehicles.’

    BUY RIGHT

    WHERE drivers buy their fuel can make a huge difference. Prices at supermarket filling stations are typically 2p per litre below the national average. During January this year, supermarket prices averaged 85.8ppl for petrol and 89.6ppl for diesel.

    It might not sound much, but add that up over time and the whole fleet and it can make quite a difference. Filling stations close to supermarkets are often nearly as cheap because they try and keep their prices competitive.

    In contrast, filling the tank at a motorway service station is invariably the most expensive way to keep motoring.

    It can cost around £3 a tankful more than supermarkets, so it’s well worth taking a slight detour to get the best price at the pump.

    AVOID DRIVING

    THE simplest way to avoid using fuel is not to use the car unless it’s really needed. Reducing weekly mileage by 25 miles a week could save £500 over three years, according to Alphabet.

    Encourage drivers to plan journeys to take the shortest route, or call clients by phone.

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