Why is it so important to manage fuel costs?
Fuel generally accounts for around 33% of a fleet’s operating costs, but without careful management can lead to significant overspend.
By deploying a number of simple, yet highly effective strategies you can greatly reduce your fleet’s fuel costs. Read on to learn how to save fuel with some great tips.
If you operate a large, centrally-based fleet and buy commensurately large amounts of fuel, you have the option of purchasing wholesale fuel and running it out of your own fueling station. However, if you run a small-medium sized fleet and your drivers buy fuel at the pump, you have the option to use a fuel card.
A Fuel Card:
- Makes fuel reclaiming fraud much more difficult
- Provides discount on pump prices
- Gives you data for reporting
- Produces electronic receipts for easier fuel management
Surprisingly, many fleets do not look at fuel consumption as a metric when choosing which vehicle to purchase. A good place to begin is the official MPG figures provided by manufacturers; however there is debate on the validity of these figures, WhichCar.com state:
“freeway and rural settings showed greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption was up to 35 per cent higher than the official claimed figure and 20 per cent higher on average.”
Plan your Routes
Do your drivers plan their routes? If so, what do they base the “best” route on? The shortest route is not always the most efficient: for example, a shorter route with a lot of traffic lights and hills may use more fuel than a longer route with no traffic lights on level roads.
If you are based in Campbell Town, Sydney and have a meeting in Bankstown on Monday, and a meeting in Liverpool on Tuesday, there are some fundamental questions to be asked from an operational point of view – couldn’t one of those appointments been moved due to the geographic locations of Bankstown and Liverpool?
As long as your vehicles are well-maintained, the single biggest factor affecting fuel consumption is how the driver behaves behind the wheel: Chevin’s own data from 2014-2015 shows that poor drivers increase fuel costs by 21% compared to average drivers and 31% compared to good drivers. Provide your drivers with training based on these steps and you will notice the difference in fuel consumption:
Be in the right gear (+3% efficiency)
By shifting into the upper gears faster on level ground, there is almost no load on the engine. Also, let the vehicle roll in neutral when slowing down to make the most of kinetic energy.
Optimize routes (+12% efficiency)
Planning routes can make a huge difference – as mentioned earlier, distance shouldn’t be the deciding factors when optimizing your routes, if you can avoid slowdowns and heavy traffic but end up travelling a bit further, you will still save fuel
Drive smoothly (+31% efficiency)
Accelerate smoothly and shift gears early. Smooth driving with steady speed saves substantial amounts of fuel compared to hard acceleration and sudden braking.
Keep tires correctly inflated (+3% efficiency)
Under-inflated tires can cause fuel consumption to increase by as much as 6%. Find the most efficient tire pressure for your vehicle; usually found on a bevel in the driver’s side door or inside the vehicle manual
Remove unused external assets (+11% efficiency)
If they are not being used, heavy items like trailers and roof racks should be removed from the vehicle to save on fuel. These items add wind resistance, which increase drag by making the engine work harder
Remove excess weight (+1% efficiency)
According to the NRMA, “loading a vehicle up to its maximum-rated weight results in fuel consumption increasing by 24% compared with an identical unladen vehicle” – so aim to reduce the amount of extra weight added to the vehicle
Avoid idling (+4% efficiency)
A quarter of a gallon of petrol can be wasted for every 15 minutes you idle. “It is recommended to turn off the engine every time you you’re waiting parked for more than 30 seconds”, as stated by Consumer Reports
How to Save Fuel – Final Thoughts
We suggest that you use telematics and driver apps for more in-depth reporting on driver behavior and vehicle performance. You should look for:
- Reports when drivers are braking hardest, accelerating the fastest and idling the most. This allows you to accurately pinpoint where fuel is being wasted and where fuel can be saved.
- Audio and visual dashboard tools that highlight poor practice directly to the driver in real time. This will encourage better driving on the job instantly, rather than retrospectively.
- Integration into fuel management software, for more sophisticated analysis in a similar manner to fuel cards. For example, you can highlight mileage claims that don’t match routes actually taken, thus helping to tackle potential fraud.
Learn more tips on how to save fuel by downloading our free guide on “Controlling Fuel Costs” & see our infographic below: