The New World of Green Fleet Management
At the COP26 environmental summit in late 2021, nearly 30 governments, and dozens of states, manufacturers and fleets signed a declaration, which said: “We will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040.”
They added: “As cities, states, and regional governments, we will work towards converting our owned or leased car and van fleets to zero emission vehicles by 2035 at the latest.
“As business fleet owners and operators, or shared mobility platforms, we will work towards 100% of our car and van fleets being zero emission vehicles by 2030, or earlier.”
The direction of travel is clear – vehicles are going to be decarbonised as quickly as technology and political will allow. That technology is improving day by day, while the political will becomes stronger all the time.
At Chevin, we are fully supportive of these ambitious goals, and are fully behind those fleets looking to turn talk into action. In fact, we have been on our own journey to sustainability, reducing the emissions of our fleet and building until we have become carbon neutral.
We intend this guide to be the first step of the process, setting out the possibilities and necessities of green fleet management.
Change is undoubtedly complex and requires some big adjustments. However, If done right, it can also revolutionise the way you do business, improving productivity, cost effectiveness and return on investment, while also helping to turn the tide on climate change.
Governments and states around the world are pushing for businesses and private users to switch to cleaner, more efficient vehicles to limit the impact on the environment.
More than 20 nations (including the UK, France, Canada, China, South Korea), and over 15 states of the USA have announced new targets for vehicle electrification in the past two years, with many proposing to phase out new sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, vans and trucks between now and 2050.
Increasingly at a local level, projects are being introduced such as Clean Air Zones and discounts on toll roads which penalise vehicle with CO2 and harmful emissions, providing incentives for the switch to electric. In the UK, there are more than a dozen Clean Air Zones either in operation, or due for launch in 2022.
As a result, for fleets working in states, regions and cities where such initiatives are launching, the transition to electric can have major financial benefits.
In the UK, by 2035 all new cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) sold must be either pure electric vehicles (EVs) or fuel cell EVs. New ICE models will be banned from 2030 and new hybrids outlawed by 2035.
The UK has also committed to phasing out new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles weighing 26 tonnes and under by 2035, with all new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) sold in the UK to be zero emission by 2040.
How to Go Green
So now the case has been made for going green. Vehicles and fuels are available, and there are solid social, financial and operational arguments for it too. How do you do it?
Firstly, you’ve got to understand what you currently have on your fleet, how it is performing and what could be improved.
Choose the right vehicles
Cleaner vehicles are the foundation of a greener fleet. Without cars, vans and trucks that can emit fewer emissions you won’t be able to reduce your environmental impact.
But this doesn’t mean just picking the latest electric, or lowest emission vehicle. It means choosing the right vehicle to do the job.
This requires expert fleet management. It needs a deep and complete understanding of the requirement for each and every vehicle, their cost and fitness for purpose. To get to this point, you need to measure, manage, agree and then act.
And this needs information. It needs clear data. Evidence of where things could be better, exceptions and achievements clearly shown. Then, once you’ve got this state of the nation report, you can start to look at alternatives and where you could fit them in.
Learn about the benefits of switching to a sustainable fleet.
Total cost of Ownership
There are financial benefits for running a green fleet, here are some of the main ones:
Cheaper fuel costs
Getting a more efficient vehicle working for you could well bring down the cost of your fleet operation. In general, 20% of the whole life costs of an ICE vehicle is taken up with buying petrol or diesel.
These can be reduced through the use of fuel cards to buy it cheaper. And if they are driven more efficiently, do less mileage and are looked after better, will use less fuel. But the cost of fuel can fluctuate because of global demand, events and politics. As an example, the price of a barrel of oil in 2021 varied between $60 and $100. This makes it hard to budget.
In contrast, the cost of the electricity used over the fleet lifetime of an EV can be more than half that of an equivalent petrol or diesel car.
Lower tax bills
In many countries now, running more efficient vehicle means lower tax bills for both the fleet and the driver.
In the UK, company car drivers of electric vehicles are currently subject to much lower benefit-in-kind tax bills: an EV in 2022/23 would incur tax at a 2% rate compared to 25% for a petrol alternative with emissions of 100g/km.
Reductions in SMR
Running a greener fleet can result in lower service, maintenance and repair costs for a number of reasons.
Generally, vehicles which prove to have lower real-world emissions are likely to be driven more slowly and more carefully, which reduces the wear and tear on parts and consumables. This is the case whether they are ICE or electric.
With electric, there are fewer moving parts anyway and therefore many service intervals are longer, and the amount of work required is lower.
Add in the fact that cars, vans and trucks driven more slowly and carefully tend to have fewer accidents, and the SMR position for a greener fleet is usually far more positive than for one that isn’t.
Online vehicle fleet maintenance software helps you plan and track all maintenance and repair services of your vehicles and equipment, so your fleet is green and clean.
Understanding operational strengths and weaknesses
When a fleet is looking to transition to electric, it can initially be difficult to match vehicles to requirements. Electric vehicles can offer huge benefits, but they can also cause problems if they, or their supporting infrastructure, doesn’t allow them to perform their intended role effectively.
Range and charging infrastructure are two major factors to consider in this, because both can inhibit daily operations if vehicles are either not able to do the mileage necessary to complete work, or are off the road charging for too much time.
Using FleetWave you can very quickly build a picture of where electric vehicles can work for you, the savings to be made and how these vehicles are working on the road. Fleets can set KPIs for performance and costs, as well as compare ICE MPG against electric ‘MPGe’.
Also, with the introduction of EVs, you may well need to add new integrations into your fleet management, such as telematics, charging and payment apps, or alternative funders and SMR providers.
Monitor using data
It’s important to put in place processes for collecting good, actionable data, so you can understand the performance of all the vehicles – and drivers – on your fleet. Then you can root out those not delivering the required real-world economy.
You can do this in a few ways. Data can be collected from several areas, such as:
- Internal management information
- Financial software
- External services
- Parts and fuel suppliers
- Telematics systems
- Funding providers
The key is to collect the data you really need, whether it be mileage, fuel spend, real-world range or efficiency results against targets. Collating it in one place so you can compare departments, vehicles or drivers against targets and KPIs will really help.
A single digital solution, into which all apps and systems can report will increase your understanding of what is happening on your fleet and what needs to be improved – and what’s working, too.
Integrations, web services and data sharing
Using FleetWave and our integration partners you can keep data flowing. Seamlessly integrate with an ever-growing directory of third-party apps, from GPS and telematics to fuel cards and financial services.
You may need to collect data from new sources too, such as:
- Public charging providers
- Home chargers
- Workplace charging
- National power networks
- Electricity suppliers
How SPIE UK has integrated EVs into its fleet
SPIE UK started to transition its fleet to electric vehicles with the rollout of 60 new Nissan e-NV200 vans and expects 98% of its fleet to be powered by alternative fuels by 2025.
The first vehicles to hit the road under SPIE’s future fleet strategy are 60 Nissan e-NV200 vans, supplied by the company’s long-term leasing provider ALD. SPIE says it chose the e-NV200 because it aligned with its operational requirements.
The vehicles are powered by a 40kWh battery, providing an operational range of 187 miles together with a maximum cargo capacity of more than 700kg.
Keith Atkins, head of fleet at SPIE UK, said: “Throughout the process, we have ensured that not only will the rollout of alternative fuel vehicles work for our business but also our employees.
“Working with them to understand how we can make this change a sustainable part of their lives, as well as being a sustainable change for the planet, was incredibly important to us.”
As part of its strategy, SPIE UK launched a mobility survey to understand the specific needs of its workforce and how the vehicles would be used.
With the vehicles being parked at employee’s homes, charging and remunerating employees for the associated costs was identified as a key issue.
In line with this, SPIE UK has partnered with a number of providers, including Chevin, to integrate all the elements of running EVs into its operation, including home charging solutions and electric charge cards, so that all usage – whether energy or mileage – can be reported and analysed.
Using a fleet management system that can integrate with the wide variety of new systems and processes needed for EVs gives you a tremendous advantage: you can build a picture very quickly of operational requirements and practical needs which allows you to bring more EVs onto fleet faster and with more confidence.
Using Technology to Transition your Fleet
Telematics and apps
Increasingly telematics and apps can tell you everything about your fleet, wherever the vehicles may be. This means you can react to issues, see where problems are and act accordingly. Here are some of the main ways it can help, when integrated with other systems.
View vehicles in real time
Technology is now available that plugs into the vehicles onboard systems to record what’s going on and report back in real time. So, if a problem is encountered, or data suggests the likelihood of a fault occurring, the fleet manager can be warned early to ensure that vehicle is scheduled for maintenance. Well-maintained cars, vans and trucks run more efficiently.
Keep an eye on drivers
Monitor drivers to find those who are regularly paying too much or driving too inefficiently. You can use that information to highlight exceptions and potential fraud, where purchases don’t match the mileage claims being made.
Reduce fuel consumption
Employees who know they are being tracked are more likely to drive more slowly and this has an impact in improving both fuel efficiency and range. By comparing tracked milage with fuel bills you can easily ascertain overall economy and create exception reports where unusually high fuel use is occurring.
This will allow you to discover who is driving without enough attention or highlight vehicles which may have faults that affect consumption.
The first question to ask of any journey is: does it need to be taken? A company culture in which this is constantly asked will be taking proactive steps towards a greener future.
But of course, many journeys do have to happen. In this case, route optimisation can ensure that the shortest, or most economical route is taken, and if there are multiple stops these are lined up in such a way as to minimises distances.
With electric vehicles, the shortest journey isn’t always to most effective for maximising range. Sticking to flatter routes and those without too much stopping and starting can significantly improve battery life.
Being stuck in congestion or traffic jams is not good for economy and telematics can help route around these issues.
The Wider World
As well as cleaner vehicles and better drivers, there are other some other questions to address, such as…
- Do we use public transport enough?
- Are our grey fleet drivers in efficient vehicles?
- Could rental cars, e-bikes, car clubs work for us?
- Do we maximise online remote working systems?
Choosing the right Suppliers
When choosing fleet suppliers, business that fully engage with sustainability on every level and understand the challenges themselves will give you a much better chance of success. Choose suppliers who can offer the following:
Suppliers who allow you to act tactically, and plan strategically
It’s important to have supplier that allow you to see what’s going on in real time, because the transition to EVs might not always be smooth and you might need to make fast decisions around utilisation of certain vehicles and operations, changing to suit existing conditions and issues as they present themselves.
But you also need to plan strategically, using data at your fingertips and projections over the long terms.
With FleetWave, you can create and view analytics, predict trends and generate graphical reports in real-time, making informed decisions, overcoming challenges, and acting fast to seize opportunities.
You can make it easy to get the details you need, with dashboards that can be tailored to the individual user, job role, departments and more.
Partners who understand the benefits of CSR
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a hugely important part of business life. Not only does it benefit others, but businesses that are genuinely committed to CSR substantially outperform those that aren’t.
A study by the Kenexa High Performance Institute showed that businesses implementing an effective CSR programme received an average return on assets 19 times higher than those businesses with no CSR programme in place.
So, you need suppliers who can partner you in this endeavour, supporting your aims and providing the information you need to prove you programme is succeeding. If they don’t have their own CSR plans in place, they will be less likely to understand your goals.
Suppliers who have a holistic view of going green
It’s not just vehicles that need to go green – it’s the entire business operation, and so suppliers who can work at this holistic level will help make your overall business more sustainable.
At Chevin for example, our systems have resulted in a huge reduction in paper usage. Through the use of FleetWave for the management of its fleet DC Water, based in Washington, USA, became genuinely paperless as a result, with all organizational information managed within the system, reaching well beyond just fleet-specific tasks.
Chevin itself is now also a carbon neutral operation and runs a 100% electric fleet.