Fuel costs – you can’t avoid the subject. Consumers and businesses are feeling the pinch as petrol and diesel prices remain high.
Despite the hype surrounding prices, many fleets are failing to act. A recent survey from Northgate Vehicle Hire found that half of small fleets (under 50 vehicles) have taken no steps at all to mitigate rising fuel costs, along with a third of larger fleets (more than 250 vehicles).
The fleet market is awash with fuel saving provisions, such as fuel cards, but before fleet managers can implement cost- cutting initiatives they need a starting point.
Fuel expenditure needs to be constantly monitored.
It should also go without saying that newer, greener vehicle models will be more efficient and burn less fuel and that fleet operators should keep an eye on “greening” their fleet.
On top of the fundamentals – monitoring fuel costs and procuring greener, more economic vehicles – here are 10 cheap and simple tips to help your drivers use less fuel:
1 Tyre pressure
Tyres should be inflated to the correct pressure – failure to do so can increase fuel consumption by 3%.
Make sure your fleet is properly serviced and maintained. Poorly tuned engines can use between 10% and 20% more fuel. Drivers should check their oil and fluid levels on a weekly basis.
The less drag a vehicle has, the less fuel it will use, especially on the motorway. If your drivers have roof or equipment racks that are not in use they should be removed.
Heavier vehicles need more fuel to move them. Removing unnecessary clutter from boots and the back of vans can boost fuel efficiency by 2%.
5 Plan ahead
Journey planning is paramount for driver safety and good timekeeping but can also keep costs down. The last thing any manager wants is a call from a lost driver, burning fuel and travelling miles in the wrong direction. Devices like satellite navigation systems can save time and money but remember – they are not intuitive and need careful input. Make sure your drivers have maps.
6 Source cheap fuel
Encourage drivers to buy cheap fuel. This usually means avoiding motorway fill-ups. But remind them that driving cross-country for cheap fuel defeats the object. Get information on prices at petrolprices.com
7 Turn off the air-con
Air conditioning is standard in many vehicles. However, it can increase fuel consumption by 10%. Be aware that winding the windows all the way down can be just as bad, as it increases drag on the vehicle.
8 Defensive/eco driving
You may think that smooth eco driving techniques require expensive training courses but your drivers can make a big difference simply by reading the road. Smooth, gradual braking and acceleration, good observation and correct gear changes can save 10 to 15% in fuel.
9 Reduce speed
Driving at lower speeds uses less fuel and drivers should always try to maintain a steady speed using the highest gear possible. The most efficient speed is 56mph. Driving at 70mph uses 15% more fuel than driving at 50, and driving at 85mph rather than 70mph uses up to 25% more fuel.
Are there alternatives to travelling by road? It’s often cheaper and quicker by public transport. Video conferencing can remove the need for travel altogether.