Fleets are failing to make the latest fuel efficient vehicles pay their way because many employees have never received the correct driver training.
New data from ALD Automotive, which operates a risk fleet of more than 96,000 vehicles, shows average CO2 emissions of new company cars fell to an all-time low of 126g/km during the first six months of 2013.
However, a survey of more than 700 company car drivers revealed that 44% had not received formal driver training, meaning many fleets are missing out on potential savings.
Mel Dawson, managing director of ALD Automotive, said: “Tackling high fuel costs remains the primary concern for fleet operators. However, having the most fuel efficient vehicles in your fleet means nothing if the keys are handed over to drivers who accelerate too quickly or brake too harshly.
“This behaviour, so-called ‘right foot thinking’, has a substantial impact on risk, CO2 output, fuel consumption and, ultimately, cost.”
Dawson added: “We believe fleets may be missing out on substantial savings by focusing too closely on their choice of fuel efficient vehicles and ignoring a major factor affecting fuel economy: the driver.”
Fleet managers can identify uneconomical drivers through a number of measures, such as telematics, which can accurately measure driver style and highlight the savings that businesses could be making through better driving.
Nevertheless, the fall in average emissions has coincided with a trend of employees travelling fewer miles as part of a continuing focus on the reduction of vehicle operating costs, and looks set to continue in the future.
ALD’s research shows average annual mileage fell by more than 2,400 miles, from 18,500 in the 12 months to the end of June 2012 to 16,000 in the corresponding period to 2013. Over the past decade, average mileage has fallen 28% by more than 6,000 miles .
But to reduce costs further, more fleets must build on the 56% of drivers that have undertaken some form of training, said Dawson.
“This is a significant step in the right direction, but we would like to see this figure increase further with more fleet managers implementing training for their drivers,” he said.
“The appetite for this kind of approach from the drivers themselves is also increasing, with over half of those who hadn’t received any training keen to go on a course.”
The impact of training on driving style is clear, with the results of ALD’s survey indicating that drivers are more aware of other drivers’ actions and they have a greater appreciation of risk and are more focused on fleet efficiency.
Dawson said: “Ultimately this has a positive effect on reducing risks and accidents, fuel consumption, carbon emissions and costs.”