Real-world testing proves AFV benefits
Rhys Harrhy explores ALD's ongoing AFV trial and the importance of telematics for monitoring its fleet performance
As technology continues to shift towards alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), here at ALD Automotive we have undertaken comprehensive fleet trials, with the aim of studying and demonstrating the various benefits of these vehicles. Cutting fleet costs and
emissions are often labelled as the main benefits, but AFVs also bring about other improvements including improved driver behaviour and reduced vehicle downtime.
These latest assessments form part of an ongoing series of trials on AFVs on ALD Automotive’s internal fleet, and we have already seen Nissan Leaf fully electric vehicles put to the test, with pilots of plug-in hybrids planned in the future.
Such trials are intended to not only demonstrate the company-wide benefits of such vehicles, but also to provide invaluable data for the company’s widespread consultancy work with fleets
under the ‘Smart Mobility’ solution – we consider it crucial to have real-world experience of these vehicles when promoting their benefits.
Conclusive environmental and financial results from real-world testing
Under the latest phase of testing, more than 30 Mercedes-Benz C- and E-Class Hybrid models and a total of 74 vehicles, including traditional diesels, have been driven by ALD drivers.
Comprehensive data on vehicle usage and performance was gathered using ALD’s market-leading ProFleet2 telematics solution in order to benchmark drivers’ performance compared to conventionally powered vehicles. We have now been testing for more than nine months, and have completed 400,000 miles to-date.
The results are conclusive. The hybrids – which bring emissions starting from 94g/km for the C-Class and 110g/km for the E-Class – are benefiting both the drivers and the business through reduced taxation and running costs, but are also helping to deliver a significant reduction in ALD’s average CO2 emissions from its own company car fleet – down from 120g/km in October 2015 to 98g/km currently. In addition, fuel economy is up by an average 10%, as measured by the in-depth information provided back by ALD’s fuel cards.
Importantly, the hybrids have also helped deliver a key change in individuals’ driving behaviour – without any bespoke hybrid vehicle training. Although ALD’s Smart Mobility consultancy programme for customers places a keen focus on recommending the introduction of eco training for AFVs, the company’s own employees were not provided with such training for the express reason of ensuring a direct comparison with their behaviour in conventional vehicles. Even without such training, the data fed back
from the ProFleet2 telematics devices shows there were considerable improvements found in areas such as speeding, harsh braking and cornering, rapid acceleration and idling as drivers tried to improve their economy figures.
The hybrid vehicles also add a new dimension to the traditional view of eco-driving, with our drivers commenting on how they had become much more focused on trying to run on electric power only, including pulling away at junctions.
Wider fleet implications
how the introduction of AFVs can bring about a number of extensive fleet benefits in addition to reductions in the business’s carbon footprint and vehicle running costs. The clear trend of improved driving behaviour that we have seen among employees switching to greener vehicles has wide-ranging implications for improved road risk management amongst fleet. In addition to the obvious benefits for drivers, it would lead to improved compliance with the company’s occupational road risk policy and a likely resultant fall in the number of accidents suffered by the fleet. This then delivers benefits including a reduction in vehicle downtime, a fall in insurance costs and the overall enhancements to the company’s corporate and social responsibility profile.
Comprehensive support package
While ALD’s trials so far have conferred a number of internal benefits for its drivers and the business itself, there are also gains for external customers, as the data and experiences will be used to inform ALD’s Smart Mobility initiative and enable
other fleets to implement AFVs.
Under the Smart Mobility programme, customers are offered access to a dedicated team that provides a holistic consultancy service on introducing optimum mobility solutions across all areas of fleet operation. This includes assessing where AFVs can be utilised and then introducing them alongside initiatives including eco training and telematics to help enhance their effectiveness. Importantly such services mean that fleets need not take a leap of faith in implementing ALD’s solid expertise and supporting data
to be sure their business will benefit from their introduction.
With more AFV trials planned for the future, ALD will shortly be starting trials on a number of other plug-in hybrids later in the year – this will include analysis on the impact on the fuel consumption from drivers just refuelling the vehicle instead of charging it. Along with advances in technology, we will continue our AFV trials for the years ahead, testing new vehicles and technologies as they come to market.
Mel Dawson, managing director of ALD Automotive, explains how the latest AFV trials have important implications for their customers. “For many businesses, 2016 may well be the year that the benefits of AFVs start to stack up,” he says.
“Sales of AFVs are at an all-time high driven by a record number of models in the marketplace while the government is showing a clear appetite for incentivising cleaner vehicle take-up. By using our Smart Mobility programme, fleets can gain from our xtensive experience in trialling such technologies and our dedicated team of expert advisers to ensure their switch to AFVs makes sense.