Fleet News

Insight: Competition hots up with three new fuel cards

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Fuelcard providers, including new entrants to the market, are looking to take advantage of a backlash by some customers against Britain’s biggest fuel card company, Allstar.

It’s been a difficult start to 2013 for the company, which was bought by FleetCor Technologies from BNP Paribas at the end of 2011.

Fleets were left unable to access online data when the company began switching account information to a new operating platform.

And then they discovered the company had introduced a network service fee, potentially adding thousands of pounds to annual fuel bills.

However, Allstar’s problems could provide rich pickings for other providers, a point not lost on a new entrant, the RAC.  

Fleet News exclusively revealed last week that the RAC is launching a web-based fleet management tool that will include a fuelcard offering.

Damon Jones, development director at the RAC, said: “We had originally planned on going out to market by June, but we’ve had such a significant number of members contacting us to do something about the fuel element now, we’ve decided to launch it earlier than we originally anticipated.”

Called the Business Club, fleet operators will be able to manage their vehicles and drivers online through the self-service platform – a simple, icon-based, fully-configurable dashboard. It will provide a full reporting suite, with the ability to access vehicle and driver information, while keeping track of all service, maintenance and repair needs.

There will also be a telematics offering helping fleets with the validation of fuel claims, as well as monitoring driver behaviour.

Full functionality will be available from June, while the dashboard with the fuel card element will be available from April 15. 

Fleets will pay pump prices with no additional cost per litre, no transaction fee or minimum fuel volume and billing will be monthly with up to 45 days credit.

Tesco and Morrisons have already signed up, with two other major fuel providers due to confirm their involvement in the coming months. Jones said the full fuel network of around 3,000 outlets will be in place by quarter four this year.

The RAC says it is initially targeting the small business sector, but the Business Club is not restricted to any particular fleet size. It already has around 20,000 SMEs within its customer base, where it provides breakdown cover to around 180,000 vehicles. It hopes to convert a large proportion of these customers to the Business Club scheme.

The RAC offering comes in the wake of the ongoing expansion of Esso’s fuel network after it announced new supply agreements with the two largest dealer groups in the UK, Rontec Investments LLP and Malthurst (MRH). Together, this will increase the total number of Esso-branded retail sites in the UK to more than 1,000 giving its fuelcard offering a boost.

Meanwhile, Atos, an international IT services company, has announced it has signed a five-year contract with
NCP to provide an enhanced payment card service for business customers.

Based on Atos’s Business Traveller Network product, the offering will allow NCP to provide customers with the ability to pay for fuel, as well as book parking, hotels and rail tickets. Atos will provide NCP with both the IT infrastructure and handle all account queries on their behalf.

The enhanced NCP Gateway offering represents the first of its kind in the UK parking sector and will see both parties working closely together to drive customer uptake and extend the scope of services available. Atos will provide full operational support, including set up of scheme, invoicing, card creation and reporting. The service is expected to be rolled out to NCP customers from next month.

Max Crane-Robinson, NCP commercial director, said: “We look forward to working with Atos on providing our customers with a solution to support their day-to-day business travel requirements.”

Yet another new fuel card, launched this month, has seen the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) link-up with The Fuelcard Company – a division of FleetCor.

The new RHA FTA fuelcard, which is available to members of both associations, can be used at more than 1,600 sites, nationwide. Members will receive a weekly fixed price, either by email or text, based on the bulk fuel market. The card is free for the first year and there is no contract to sign, and if the user decides that the RHA FTA fuelcard isn’t for them, there will be no cancellation fee to pay.

Click here for fuel and fuel cards best practice and procurement insight

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