Fleet News

Soaring prices refocus minds on cutting fuel use

Rising pump prices are putting fleets under increasing pressure to protect their company’s bottom line.

The recent rise in VAT and a hike in fuel duty have added to their burden, while inflation and April’s planned increase wait in the wings.

However, pump price volatility is nothing new to UK fleets and many have already introduced measures over the past two years to help combat rising world oil prices.

“We monitor mileage, engine idle times and route planning carefully and we have also adopted a back to basics approach on daily maintenance and fuel efficient driving techniques,” explains Gateshead Council fleet manager Graham Telfer.

“Fuel consumption reducing measures are also supported by regular ‘tool box’ talks with staff and we’re reaping the rewards of having hybrid and electric vans in our fleet, plus two electric cars, as part of the low carbon vehicle procurement programme.”

Having already committed to creating a more sustainable fleet, Eon’s fleet manager David Graham told Fleet News that the cost of fuel had “reinforced” that earlier decision.
He adds: “The message remains drive only the miles absolutely necessary, so review alternatives, improve routing and fit telematics.

“If you have to drive do so in the most fuel efficient vehicle that will do the job, fit speed limiters and invest in driver training.

“At £1 a litre fuel was expensive and we had actions in place. At £1.40 a litre what’s changed?”

But with fleets being asked to cut costs or at the very least keep any increases to a minimum, that means reminding driver’s of their responsibilities and ensuring they follow some simple guidelines.

At Swift Fire and Security that’s meant enforcing tighter controls on where drivers fill up. “No motorway fill ups unless it is an emergency and then it’s limited to £20,” says Helen Sleigh, fleet manager at Swift Fire and Security.

“This has been very successful and has had buy in from both drivers and senior management.”

Sleigh has also been managing driver mileage on a daily basis to ensure jobs are completed efficiently and carrying out checks on personal mileage declarations.

“We are now looking at the possibility of using fixed price fuel cards, however as we are a national company with customers the length and breadth of the UK, we need to ensure that these cards offer suitable coverage for our drivers,” adds Sleigh.

Graham Short, car fleet manager at Indesit, said the company was already considering alternatives to travel even before the recent rises hit.

“However, we still cannot get away from the necessity of cars, so we continue to make the best of a difficult situation,” adds Graham.

“Constant reminders to drivers in an attempt to drive home the message, but because we pay and reclaim at Advisory Fuel Rates the drivers are already cautious so as not to be out of pocket.”

Nigel Underdown, head of transport advice at the Energy Saving Trust, admitted fleets faced a difficult job in forecasting how fuel prices might impact on their budgets.

Story continues on Page Two

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  • FleetEnergyWatcher - 11/02/2011 12:31

    Fuel duty is 2.5% lower in real terms than it was 10 years ago. At the same time, total UK vehicle mileage is falling, as is total road fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions. So there are no environmental or traffic congestion grounds for raising fuel duty in April. Mr Osborne seems to have recognised that he is on shaky ground. However, freezing duty will have little impact on rising fuel prices, which are driven by factors outside the Government's control. Not since the 1970s has there been a time when fleets needed a clearer picture of their fuel and mileage costs than today. Yet many businesses still don't capture this data - instead it gets lost in different cost centres' expenses processes (always assuming that one could extract useful data for controlling mileage and fuel costs from the process in the first place). Such lack of clarity - you could call it 'grey fuel' - is preventing many companies from embarking on the kind of cost control measures described in the article.

  • PaulNunn - 14/02/2011 11:45

    Another area where fleet operators can look to improve fuel consumption and ultimately reduce fuel bills are tyre pressures. Under inflated tyres increase rolling resistance, which impacts on fuel economy, for a truck tyre just 15% under inflation can result in a 2.5% drop in the number of miles per litre of fuel a vehicle can operate at. Maple Fleet Services offer a mechanical tyre pressure monitoring system for commercial vehicles, called Cat’s Eye. Suitable for single or dual tyres Cat’s Eye can help you to identify a drop in pressure with just a quick glance at the wheel, by ensuring your tyres are always at the optimum pressure rating you could save thousands in wasted fuel. http://www.maplefleetservices.co.uk/cats_eye.shtml

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