Norman Baker: The enemy is not the car
The under-secretary of state for transport, Norman Baker, who has responsibility for regional and local transport and traffic management, is also the first transport minister to have within his portfolio a brief to promote alternatives to travel.
But while the Government is keen to reduce travel, he said his department understands that much travel, especially business travel, is essential.
“The enemy is not the car,” he said. “It is the carbon.”
He is keen to ensure fleets use the most environmentally-friendly vehicles they can.
“By some considerable distance you – fleets – represent the UK's largest market for green vehicles,” he said.
“It’s not just the size of your collective chequebook that gives you such influence, your reputation for adopting new greener practices to reduce fuel consumption and for being willing to try cutting-edge technologies to help jump-start a wide range of green fleet management schemes also means fleets are making an active, practical and deliverable contribution today.”
Gary Hull: Firms encourage home working
Gary Hull, PricewaterhouseCoopers director of employment services, said many companies are looking at reducing mileage as a way to cut fuel bills.
Referring to the PWC Company Car UK 2010 report, he said 42% of surveyed companies are now encouraging home working and an equal percentage are encouraging car sharing, which is most successful when car parking spaces are reserved for car shares closest to their office.
Such practices are in line with the minister’s aspirations for businesses to do all they can to cut the need for travel.
Hull also reminded fleet managers that better planning of business meetings can have a significant impact on cutting mileage, as can encouraging employees to stay away from the office.
There are tax ‘perks’ available, such as subsistence payments, that make it attractive for an employee to have a series of meetings away from the office in one day rather than going to one meeting only to travel to the same area the following day.
Meryl Gilbert: Significant fuel price differences
Fleets are increasingly managing their fuel spend and are adopting fuel cards in greater numbers, according to Meryl Gilbert, head of business development at Arval.
“It is very hard to predict fuel prices,” she said, referring not only to the volatility of wholesale fuel prices but also the significant differences in the prices one outlet charges compared to another.
For example, there was a 7.5p per litre difference between the price of fuel at one BP station compared to that being charged at a nearby Asda station.
Such differences mean it is vital fleets control where their employees refuel.
“Therefore, more fleets are realising that they need to manage these costs more effectively,” she said.
“They need visibility and they need control over where drivers buy their fuel.”
But fuel cards provide more information than just where a car was refilled and how much it cost.
They can provide information on mileage and economy, as well as data about a fleet’s carbon footprint.
Rob Paddock: Correct bad driving habits
Embracing the green agenda has helped the Commercial Group grow its business by between 30% and 40%.
Managing director Arthur Hindmarch said he was staggered at the dramatic growth which followed the introduction of its carbon reduction strategy.
But he stressed that the lessons to achieving that success were understanding what you were doing then set some tough targets which were measurable.
As part of the process, the company’s fleet has moved from petrol to low-emission diesels and the use of public transport and car sharing has been encouraged.
Commercial Group distribution and logistics manager Rob Paddock said: “We’ve also run a number of driver training events with our high-mileage sales team which encourages fuel efficient driving and corrects any bad driving habits.”
Better scheduling of vehicles and route optimisation has also helped reduce mileage by 140,000 miles.