Green fleet management
In a recent survey of 600 fleet managers, nearly half attached more importance to cost than sustainability issues when making decisions about their business vehicles. It’s not surprising that budgets are paid more mind; fuel prices are peaking at record highs (the UK is the tenth most expensive place in Europe to buy petrol and the third most expensive place to fill up with diesel). The RAC estimates the cost of motoring has increased by 14% in the last two years and car tax, insurance, parts and labour are all at a premium.
Ironically, green fleet management could be the solution.
No longer just a way to meet CSR targets or a beneficial PR exercise, a slew of new research suggests that going green is one of the most efficient ways to cut costs and make significant savings across a range of business vehicle expenses. Most changes can be made at fleet management level simply by focusing on driver education and driving style. New inter-company processes and procedures such as removing unneeded equipment from fleet vehicles take seconds to implement but can deliver surprising money-saving results;
A road test by low carbon and fuel cell researchers Cenex shows the spiralling cost of carrying excess weight. Its trials concluded that a standard van such as a Volkswagen Caddy used 26% less fuel empty than it did fully loaded. With larger vans, the consumption differences are even bigger – the Peugeot Boxer uses up to 33% more fuel when full.
Forcing delivery drivers to drive around with empty vans is not efficient but asking employees to remove excess equipment which gets trundled from place to place in the boot or back and is rarely used could add up to big savings. Cenex estimates that if just one in two UK van drivers lowered their loads by 75kg, they would save over £50 million in fuel each year. Lighter loads also mean fewer emissions. Removing excess stock or equipment also frees up room in the vehicle itself – giving opportunities for car sharing and combined loads.
Aftermarket rev limiter firm Autokontrol has proven a 24.7% improvement in economy and similar savings in CO2 emissions on vans fitted with a rev limiter. In six month field trials some business users reported savings of 13mpg per vehicle with a 4.42 mpg improvement on average for the fleet as a whole. The Royal Mail is one big name company to adopt the practise recently, with its fleet management team reasoning that many vehicles were capable of much greater performance levels than were needed in any case.
More accurate mileage tracking and more stringent reporting systems could cut mileage claims by 10%. If actioned across the country, fleet managers would save a combined estimated £1 billion in fuel costs and 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 – enough to send a single fleet car around the world a grand total of 374,300 times. The data by The Energy Saving Trust recommends efficient mileage tracking systems can also reduce the burden on the fleet management department with less admin, less management, better VAT reclaims and easier identification of wasted journeys. The Energy Saving Trust is supporting drinks company Red Bull as it trials mileage management software on its 106 UK company cars. It expects to see a 10% reduction in carbon emissions and lower fuel costs.