Fleet News

Fleets' image 'more important than the planet'

Rather than concentrating on reducing their fleets’ carbon footprint, most companies’ environmental fleet policies are based upon trying to improve their corporate image.

Sixty per cent of companies questioned in a recent survey said that company image was the main reason for adopting environmental fleet policies.

Almost half said cost savings were also a major motivating factor.

But Nigel Underdown head of transport advice at the Energy Saving Trust said the findings prove there are corporate as well as environmental benefits to green fleets.

“The good news is that this shows there is a very strong business case – both in terms of cost and image – for adopting an environmental fleet policy.”

Nigel Trotman, business relationship manager at Whitbread, who received the outstanding achievement award from the Energy Saving Trust at its 2007 Green Fleet Hero Awards, said cost and image were high on the agenda when the company adopted a green fleet policy in 1998.

“Fuel efficient cars save money for the business, and, of course, there is an environmental spin off,” he said.

“But the financial benefits were number one, followed by the environment and then company image.”

However, the survey, carried out by Masterlease, also found that while business are writing green initiatives into their fleet policies, many are finding it difficult to turn these initiatives into reality.

This is despite the UK’s leasing association, the BVRLA, revealing that fleet managers are demanding greener cars and that their drivers cover fewer annual business miles.

Indeed, British fleets have cut their carbon footprint by three million tonnes over the past three years.

But Robert Kingdom, head of marketing and business development at Masterlease, said that while it is encouraging to see the adoption of greener cars, managers need to also focus on other areas.

“The research shows that far too many policies fall short by focusing too heavily on the vehicles and not considering the impact that driver behaviour can have,” he said.

The survey found that while over 50% of the respondents felt their companies had made positive steps in terms of choosing cleaner vehicles few are considering the impact of driver behaviour.

It found that almost 40% of fleet operators did not monitor driver mileage effectively, despite new research that shows the significant savings that ‘eco-driving’ can produce.

According to RAC research, 60% of drivers aren’t aware that changing gear when revs are high can reduce fuel consumption and 40% think that driving under 45mph always saves fuel.

A further one in ten only check their tyre pressure less than once a year, and three quarters are unaware that under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption.

The RAC said that by adopting green driving techniques, fleets could see savings of at least £100 per driver.

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