How to Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs with Effective Vehicle and Driver Management
As the manager or owner of a business vehicle fleet, you’ll know that fuel and usage costs take a huge chunk out of your overall running costs.
Reducing fuel consumption is one way to counter the effects of high fuel prices, but what about other methods? In this article, you’ll discover six ways to minimise your fleet fuel costs through smarter vehicle and driver management.
1. Reduce fleet fuel costs by improving driver behaviour
Driving at excessive speeds, harsh braking, and gunning off after being stationary at traffic lights can all have a significant impact on a vehicle’s fuel consumption. By training your drivers on fuel-efficient driving techniques, you not only save money on fuel but also help to keep drivers and other people on the roads safe.
Many fleet training suppliers now offer Energy Saving Trust approved ‘eco-driving’ courses. This can result in long-term average savings of 6% for fleets and 15% on the day a driver is trained. Core eco-driving techniques include:
- Driving smoothly to anticipate situations ahead and to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration
- Stepping off the accelerator when driving downhill or slowing down
- Shifting up to a higher gear as early as possible and skipping gears when needed
- Avoiding driving at excessive speeds
Carlsberg is one such company that has placed eco-driving techniques at the heart of its fleet of 260 vehicles. Since 2011, Carlsberg has saved 502,549 litres of fleet fuel, equating to cost savings of £568,687.
2. Create preventative vehicle maintenance schedules
One direct affiliation with poor fleet fuel consumption is low tyre pressure. This is because more acceleration is needed when tyres aren’t properly inflated. But, with regular checks and a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance, factors such as this can be ironed out. Resulting in savings, and other cost savings too.
Mechanical problems, for instance, can go undetected for longer than necessary if you do not ensure preventative maintenance action is taken. Resulting in more significant and expensive problems further down the line.
Unexpected vehicle maintenance inevitably means more vehicle downtime. The cost of having a vehicle off the road is one that 40% of fleets fail to estimate, according to a survey by Autoglass.
A fleet management system, that includes fleet telematics, can help you work out when to schedule inspections and servicing. Telematics can be used to obtain accurate mileage readings after every journey your fleet vehicles undertake. What’s more, the process is automated, so you don’t need to rely on updates from drivers. Eliminating any room for inaccuracies and delays.
3. Implement vehicle tracking to monitor your fleet fuel costs
One advantage of enabling vehicle tracking is to allow for better route planning, effectively shortening the amount of overall driving miles.
Reducing mileage is one of the quickest ways to cut costs and carbon emissions. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if a vehicle doing 12,000 business miles per year reduces its mileage by 10%, £150 could be saved in fuel costs alone.
GPS tracking, used with fleet management software, helps you to see how your fleet is spread out across the map. It allows you to check how each driver is getting from A to B and where they stop in-between. And, by working together with your drivers on route planning, you can even ensure they know where and what stations to fill up their vehicles.
4. Track fleet fuel usage
Tracking fleet fuel usage can be done easily through a fuel card programme. Fuel cards provide many benefits, including discounts, less paperwork, HMRC-approved invoicing, and the ability to prevent card fraud (as all purchases are monitored and recorded).
There are several fuel cards around to compare, and you should select your provider wisely. Make sure you pick a card that comes with good reporting tools so you can obtain vital information about fuel usage, e.g. miles per gallon, the cost per unit and odometer readings.
Some fleet management systems can also integrate with fleet fuel cards to give you a broader and more accurate picture of your fleet’s consumption. For example, you can see fuel consumption data alongside other vehicle data such as maintenance records, service history and total cost of ownership.
5. Use fleet data insights
Fleet management software helps to keep essential vehicle data centralised in one place. If your software has powerful reporting tools built-in, you are able to create custom reports in seconds to support decision-making for better fleet management.
Undertaking regular reporting will help you identify any anomalies among the vehicles in your fleet. For instance, a vehicle that regularly requires repairs may indicate a more complicated problem under the hood.
Telematics data can tell you how well your fleet drivers are performing, so you can make improvements in this area and improve their consumption.
You can also look out for inflated fuel card transactions, which may suggest fraudulent usage where multiple pump purchases have happened at once or a fuel card has been shared. In fact, fuel fraud is a major issue. According to research by Shell, an incredible 93% of fleet managers believe some of their drivers are committing fraud activity.
6. Consider replacing costly vehicles
From time to time, you should evaluate the total cost of ownership for each of your vehicles. The total cost of ownership is much more than just the purchase price of a fleet vehicle. It should also factor in costs in terms of maintenance, fuel consumption, taxation and insurance.
You may find it beneficial to replace some of the vehicles in your fleet with more efficient options. From example, swapping to smaller vehicles with a higher mpg (or electric vehicles even) could present long-term benefits for your fleet fuel costs.
Bonus: How Fleet Management Software can help reduce fleet fuel costs
Efficient fuel utilisation is crucial if you need to reduce your fleet’s expenditure. Improving driver behaviour, undertaking preventative vehicle maintenance and tracking vehicle fuel usage will undoubtedly make a positive difference. As will choosing the right type of vehicles for your business.
By using a fleet management software tool, you can incorporate all telematics and perform custom reporting. This helps to centralise your fleet data and identify areas where further improvements can be made.
For more information about implementing a fleet management system, explore our fleet management software buyer’s guide.