• Consider how often fleet drivers switch back and forth between driving fleet vehicles and passenger vehicles. Because of the frequency of their refueling, they run a higher-than-average risk of accidentally filling a fuel tank with the wrong type of fuel—a costly mistake that can seriously harm a fleet company’s vehicles and its bottom line.

    Fleet managers who teach and enforce proper fueling practices with drivers ultimately save their company time, money and heartache. Below are some facts and tips fleet managers can share with drivers to help improve fuel economy and avoid unnecessary fleet maintenance expenses.

    Did you know?

    ~  In case any fleet managers question the importance of reminding drivers to use the correct type of fuel, they ought to read  this About.com article that describes the damaging effects of filling up with the wrong fuel. Each year 300,000 vehicles require maintenance because of this error and these expenses add up to at least nearly $250 million dollars. Ouch!

    ~  Vehicle fueling requirements vary, as do octane ratings (which measure the burn time of fuel in a vehicle’s cylinder). A vehicle that receives lower than its required octane level loses fuel efficiency and risks engine breakdown; higher than required levels may either improve fuel efficiency (a potentially worthy investment) or have zero impact on the vehicle’s performance (a waste of money). Fleet managers need to make that determination based on what their fleet vehicles are used for and how often they’re used, as well as the fueling requirements stated in the vehicle’s manual.

        Try this…

        ~  Fleet managers can greatly reduce the odds of drivers filling tanks with the wrong fuel by creating visual reminders in prominent locations—and they can never display too many. Effective locations for bold-color notes include on the dashboard, on the fuel tank door, on the interior of the driver’s-side door, and wherever fleet fuel cards are stored. Fleet managers can also provide verbal reminders and create a system that requires drivers to verify the type of fuel they’ll use before leaving fleet headquarters.

        ~  Some fuel management programs feature a powerful safety tool that provides control remotely for fleet managers. After a driver or fuel attendant swipes a fleet card the system detects pre-programmed data about the driver and the vehicle and determines if the driver selected the correct type of fuel. If not, the pump is immediately deactivated and the fleet manager is alerted to the error.

            Companies that operate with transportation already pay plenty toward fuel expenses, and a poor fueling decision at the pump can potentially prove catastrophic for business. Informed fleet managers who implement effective fueling policies and educate employees about proper fueling practices for specific vehicles can ensure fleets remain on the road and out of the shop, which keeps customers happy and business thriving.




          • Fleet operations depend on proficient guidance from fleet management as much as vehicles depend on fuel. Yet fleet managers must balance many challenging responsibilities, such as overseeing maintenance, financing and telematics details for vehicles, as well as monitoring fleet driver performance, safety conditions and fuel usage. The most successful fleet managers, therefore, are those who keep all of these tasks skillfully under their control.

            Fleet managers can employ one of the most powerful fleet service tools available for managing fuel costs and controlling budgets: the fleet fuel card.

            Fleet fuel cards are designed to give fleet managers control over spending through carefully engineered features. For example, fleet managers can restrict the types of purchases cardholders make, and regulate the day of week and time of day fleet cards can be used. They can even take control of critical situations remotely with the ability to stop the flow of fuel at the pump in real-time!

            Yes, Fuelman customers have actually stopped fuel at the pump to prevent drivers from accidentally adding unleaded gas into a diesel-powered vehicle. Fleet managers can avoid this type of simple mistake, which can cost companies thousands of dollars to fix, and ensure vehicles stay active on the road by being alerted before the mistake occurs.

            With fuel prices in constant fluctuation, fleet managers frequently feel the pinch of economic turbulence. They know how critical it is to make every dollar count. Fleet fuel cards help to budget and track every dollar spent on fleet fuel and fleet maintenance, and allow fleet managers to control and monitor spending – even in real-time.

            For more information about fleet cards and how they can help your company, check out our fleet cards FAQ page, contact our fleet fuel professionals at (800) 633-3271, or start your fleet card application today!

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          • Ask any fleet manager if he or she enjoys managing the budget for fuel costs, and you’ll likely receive a cold response. And nobody blames them for feeling stressed about that part of the job. They must consider so many ever-changing variables that affect fuel consumption – including number of trips, length of trips, size and weight of cargo, driving behaviors, fluctuating gas prices, and more. Fleet managers not only must establish a reasonable dollar allotment for fuel expenses, they must also constantly look for new ways to reduce those expenses.

            Fortunately, fleet managers can apply a few simple strategies to improve fuel efficiency, and thus save their company money. These strategies include, but are not limited to, enforcing a strict vehicle maintenance schedule and changing the fleet’s driving behaviors.

            Vehicle Maintenance

            Fleet vehicles that are properly maintained yield better gas mileage and a longer lifespan on the road – both of which saves fleets money. Here are some maintenance musts: 

            ~  During each fuel up, check the air pressure of all tires. Properly inflated tires resist roads less, which reduces the amount of gas required to power the vehicle.

            ~  Align the tires regularly to help prevent the engine from over-working and requiring more  gas.

            ~  Follow regular tune-up schedules to optimize vehicle gas mileage, including the timely replacement of air filters and the usage of the correct grade of motor oil.          

            Driving Behaviors

            Fleet drivers can consume less fuel by adopting the following simple driving habits:

            ~  Avoid braking and accelerating constantly. Keep vehicle speed at a steady pace –   cruise  control is helpful for achieving this.

            ~  Put the engine into overdrive while driving at higher speeds – it helps reduce RPMs, which reduces fuel consumption.

            ~  Reduce the weight a vehicle carries, when possible.

            ~  Turn off a vehicle if idling is expected to last for more than a minute.

            ~  Drive slower to reduce drag and fuel consumption.

            ~  Limit the use of AC – turn it off 5-10 minute before reaching the destination, and park in the shade, if possible.

            A Note on Hybrids

            Fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrid-electric models, are obviously engineered to consume less gas, however, not all fleet vehicles can be outfitted with hybrid technology. And in some cases, hybrid vehicles used in a fleet capacity may not prove to be as fuel-efficient as consumer-driven cars. Depending on the needs of a fleet, certain light-duty cars and trucks may offer a noticeable improvement in fuel efficiency. Otherwise, when hybrid fleet vehicles are not a viable option, fleet managers may wish to consider purchasing vehicles with manual transmissions, which are widely known for providing better gas mileage than vehicles with automatic transmissions.

            Start your fleet gas card application today to see how top fleet management services can save your business money. 

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          • During an era in which gas prices seem to only get higher and higher, many drivers believe there’s no end in sight. Coupons and discounts are non-existent and limited transportation and fueling alternatives give consumers little choice. In a sign of global economic development, geography is playing its biggest part yet in the price of gasoline, and consumers, politicians, and even oil companies are taking notice.

            Although there isn’t one dominating factor that drives the price of gas up or down, the large discrepancies worldwide and nationwide can be attributed to supply and demand, natural disasters, taxes and geography. While the price of gasoline this year has remained below $4 per gallon for most of the country, prices vary widely from coast to coast.

            In the United States, remote locations often lead to more expensive products and services, and gasoline is no different. Most notably the West, where there is a lack of refineries, the price of gasoline is more sensitive to unplanned changes, including pipeline connections, distance to active physical trading markets and outages. Without a single oil pipeline cutting across the Rocky Mountains, the West Coast is virtually cut off from the rest of the nation’s supply of gas, making the region extremely susceptible to sudden gas shortages and steep price increases.

            Although isolated from oil reserves, the West still inhibits large populations in need of gasoline. Being the ninth largest economy in the world, California’s gas demands require its refineries to operate at near full capacity. Additionally, California also supplies fuel to other Western states such as Oregon, Arizona, Washington and Nevada, increasing the reliance beyond just California on the minimal resources.

            Although the West Coast gets the brunt of high prices, the entire country goes through price fluctuations – no matter where one resides. Annually, refineries shut down or reduce production for routine maintenance and adjust their fuel to make a cleaner, more expensive gas. During this time, which usually occurs April to September, consumers tend to travel more, only pushing demand – and prices – higher. Those living in a populated area in an oil producing state, still have a price disadvantage compared to those across town. Oil companies use zone pricing to determine the price each dealer sells by charging dealers different amounts for fuel based on traffic volume, station amenities, nearby household incomes, the strength of competitors, and other factors, all in an effort to boost profits.

            Like many industries, government regulation and taxes also contribute to pricing differences. (californiagasprices.com, 2012) Washington holds the highest tax rate for gasoline at 37.5 cents-per-gallon, followed by California at 35.3 cents-per-gallon. Oregon, a state limited by refineries and location, also has a high tax rates at 30. cents-per-gallon. Those states that have refineries on the other hand, have generous tax rates. Alaska and Wyoming, both oil supplying states, are taxed 8 and 13 cents-per-gallon, respectively.  

            The demand for gas isn’t just limited within the United States, as it also extends beyond our borders. This is a sign of the times to come, as we can anticipate gas prices to continue to increase, regardless of fueling location.

            For businesses who rely on transportation to provide services, the increasing gas prices are a cost that is closely monitored - from coast to coast or one side of town to the other. Businesses are looking for more fuel management solutions to help control and manage their business. Whether a business owner, a driver by profession, or even just a vehicle owner, knowing pricing differences can help you understand what you are paying for in this fast changing industry, what options are available, and even helping to improve your fleets efficiency. A fleet fuel card program is a solid place to start!

            References:

            californiagasprices.com. (2012, Oct 19). Total US Fuel Taxes by State. (californiagasprices.com, Producer) Retrieved Oct 19, 2012, from californiagasprices.com: http://www.californiagasprices.com/tax_info.aspx

            fuelgaugereport.aaa.com. (2012, Oct 19). National Average Prices. (fuelgaugereport.aaa.com, Producer) Retrieved Oct 19, 2012, from fuelgaugereport.aaa.com: http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/?redirectto=http://fuelgaugereport.opisnet.com/index.asp

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          • Here’s a fact: excessive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere contributes to global warming.   Day after day highway vehicles burn fuel that leads to the creation of carbon dioxide.   Why should you as a fleet manager care about how much CO2 your fleet emits?  Because you can not only use this information to determine how much your fleet impacts the environment, but you can make better, well informed decisions about vehicle maintenance and vehicle purchases.

            How 6 Pounds of Gasoline Creates 20 Pounds of Carbon Dioxide

            So just how much CO2 are we talking about?

            A gallon of gasoline weighs roughly 6.3 pounds. It seems unlikely that a gallon of gas could create 20 pounds of carbon dioxide when burned. Interestingly enough, the weight of the carbon dioxide doesn’t come from the gasoline itself but from the oxygen in the air.

            When gas burns, carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O) and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

            A carbon atom weighs 12 amu (atomic mass units), and each oxygen atom weighs 16 amu, which means each single molecule of CO2 weighs 44 amu (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen).

            Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a single gallon of gasoline, multiply the weight of the carbon in the gasoline by 3.7 (44 ÷ 12).

            Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 pounds x 0.87).

            When we multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, our total is 20 pounds of CO2!

            Bottom line—fuel-efficient vehicles not only save your business money but they help protect the environment from harmful CO2.

            Sources: Physical and chemical properties of gasoline: Department of Energy (DOE), Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), http://www.afdc.energy.gov/pdfs/afv_info.pdf.

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