By Tom Preston, Managing Director, Hippo Leasing
Fleets are an expensive, yet vital, asset. For companies operating both large and small fleets, identifying and streamlining inefficiencies can make a huge difference to the bottom line.
If you’re spending precious business funds on managing and growing your fleet, it’s worth considering where your biggest costs are and whether you could save money by making simple changes.
To help, Tom Preston, Managing Director of Hippo Leasing has rounded up 7 ways to cut business fleet costs…
- Eco-driving practices
Driver education and reinforcing best practice is a worthwhile activity, helping to reduce fuel consumption and costs.
Most businesses will give new starters training on driving efficiency, but it’s also worth holding annual or 6-monthly sessions to refresh staff’s knowledge and stop standards from slipping.
Driver efficiency tips include, but are not limited to:
- Keeping an eye on the road ahead and anticipating changes in traffic flow to avoid starts from a complete stop
- Avoid excessive speed; not only is it dangerous it adds significantly to fuel consumption
- Using cruise control if driving conditions allow
- Intelligent clutch control, keeping revs down under 2,000-2,500 RPM
- Driving in as higher gear as possible and skipping gears as you accelerate
- Turn off the engine if you expect to be stationary for more than a minute.
Organisations such as The Energy Saving Trust offer subsidised eco-driving training to companies, delivered by DVSA-registered fleet trainers, or alternatively online fuel efficient driving courses may be more suitable.
- Lose weight
When additional weight is added to a vehicle, more power is needed when accelerating, therefore more fuel is used. The same is also true for aerodynamics, so if you have a rack, ladder or box it will disrupt air flow and require more power and thus use more fuel.
Encourage employees to only travel with necessary personal and business equipment to keep weight and air resistance at a minimum. This will also limit the risk of theft of items and promote a more organised lifestyle.
- Map it out
Before your drivers set off, it’s worth them researching the best – and most fuel-efficient – routes. A Sat Nav may recommend the shortest route but there may be roadworks, gridlocked junctions, speed bumps and pedestrian crossings, meaning stop and starts are more likely.
It’s also important to consider how multiple journeys planned for the same day or week can be combined to lower the total number of journeys being made and miles travelled.
Employees should also be smart about low emission zones. In the UK, Low Emission Zones (LEZ) exist in Greater London and Norwich, with a new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) being introduced in London from April 8th 2019.
There are certain standards your vehicles must meet in order to enter either area, which drivers should check before setting-off. To avoid additional charges, businesses should try where possible, to avoid the area or make alternative travel plans.
- Savvy fuel stops
Much like route planning, staff should be encouraged to plan for fuel stops. Prices at motorway service stations are normally highly inflated and can be as much as a third higher than local petrol pumps.
Drivers should check their fuel levels regularly and plan for re-fuelling stops before they enter the red. Sometimes, diverting off course for two or three miles is well worth the extra effort.
- Pumped up
Tyres account for 20 to 30 percent of a vehicle’s fuel consumption and not all are created equal. Picking a tyre with a Fuel Efficiency Class of A or B will save you fuel, as they have a low rolling resistance on the road.
For example, switching from Class G tyres to Class A tyres can reduce fuel consumption by up to 9 percent.
It’s also important to regularly check tyre pressure; if tyres are under inflated the vehicle will suffer with bad performance and burn more fuel. Promote good practice by asking drivers across your fleet to keep a record of tyre checks and pressure readings.
- In-car technologies
To give staff a helping hand, in-car technologies such as speed limiters or telematics can monitor driving efficiency relating to an individual vehicle or an entire fleet.
By gathering data on driver behaviour and vehicle performance, companies (and indeed staff) are empowered to make decisions and changes where needed to boost energy efficiency and cut fuel costs.
These devices can also help protect your brand image and ensure safety standards are upheld.
- Go green
The UK government recently announced a ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2040. According to Geotab, almost 90 percent of UK fleets plan to go electric before 2030, yet less than half currently do not have any electric vehicles.
Businesses of all sizes should be planning ahead to make the switch as smooth and cost-effective as possible. Those doing so have a lot to gain, beyond the initial financial outlay, including zero or low road tax, cheaper maintenance and a better brand reputation.
While the UK’s green infrastructure is being expanded, businesses introducing electric or hybrid vehicles into their fleets should consider installing their own charging points and providing staff with details of where they can find them on popular routes.
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