• While the utilization of a corporate bank card streamlines the number of cards a fleet operator needs to keep track of and the number of reports a fleet manager needs to analyze, it is more advantageous from both a fiduciary and reporting standpoint to apply for a fleet fuel card from FleetCardsUSA.  In addition to the savings and rebates that can reduce expenses by thousands of dollars annually, the level III reporting that FleetCardsUSA's fleet cards provide to clients allows for the greatest control and transparency of all fuel related expenditures.

    Level III Transaction Data

    When looking at a personal bank statement attached to a debit card, a consumer is able to view the basic information about purchases: date and time, name and location, and total cost. This is referred to as Level I (1) data. The next available data is Level II (2) reporting and is available for most corporate cards, this report provides a greater amount of visibility of purchase details: line item detail of non-fuel purchases, type of merchant, fuel grade, number of gallons, and cost per gallon. The pinnacle of fuel transaction data is provided within a Level III (3) report. With the number of drivers vehicles that most fleet managers have to oversee, level III data is crucial for a business to keep track of all fleet related expenses. This third level of reporting provides full transparency of every purchase placed on the fleet card; odometer reading, vehicle ID number, Driver ID number, and a full description of the product type. Expense reporting of this depth allows managers to have control over spending that is not available with a corporate card.

    Fleet Card Control Features

    Through the wide selection of cards FleetCardsUSA has available, fleet managers have the capability to limit the expenditures being placed on the account.  These controls can restrict a card holder to the acquisition of a select few product types like fuel and lubricants, or to purchase time of day or day of week. In addition to this, since level III reports contain driver ID and vehicle ID numbers, if these two values don't match what was provided to the system by the manager, the card will be declined. This goes for lack of alignment with all of the controls as well.  For example, a card has been set to fuel and fluid purchases only between eight and ten in the morning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, if a driver comes in at noon on Friday to top off the tank of their fleet vehicle and wants a snack as well, the card will be declined.

    This vast range of control over a company's finances is only available to fleet card holders; corporate cards might reduce the weight of a fleet operator's wallet, but through unwarranted expenditures and lack of fuel expense savings options, corporate cards lead to a reduction of the bottom line.

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  • A few months ago we provided some simple steps to improve fuel efficiency. However, increasing and maintaining optimal fuel efficiency is far more intricate of a process than performing basic fleet maintenance and driving responsibly. The key concepts that control fuel consumption are friction, temperature and fuel/air ratio, and with over 200 moving parts in both gasoline and diesel combustion engines – not including the mechanics of power transfer – keeping each one of them at peak efficiency is hard to come by. However, there are quite a few practices that should be executed to save your business money at the pump.

    Achieve Ideal Fleet Fuel Efficiency

    Friction is the enemy of efficiency, and with nearly 3000 moving parts throughout the entire average vehicle, there is a lot that can hinder forward motion.  To begin with point of contact, aside from proper inflation, lack of correct alignment is equivalent to dragging a vehicle as opposed to rolling smoothly.  Inquire with your fleet operators regularly if they feel any pulling left or right, this is a strong indication of wheels being out of alignment; correcting this issue can increase fuel efficiency by 1 to 2 miles per gallon. A similar reduction in fuel consumption can be seen at the wheels through the other components that enable or inhibit ideal power transfer; i.e. replacing warped brake rotors, ensuring that brake pads are not rubbing, and checking to see that wheel bearings are in clean working order.

    Further up the power transfer process are the mechanics that distribute the engine’s power to the wheels; i.e. differentials and transmission. Within the differential, sludgy fluid or improper fluid levels can increase friction within the structure. This issue is present with transmissions as well, both automatic and manual. However, transmissions present additional possible fuel efficiency issues through improper adjustments of the torque converter and throttle cable.

    Finally, at the top of the powertrain are many parts that impact fuel efficiency. The most crucial errors occur during the explosive action of the stroke when too rich of a fuel mixture enters the cylinder, and fuel literally pours onto the road out of the exhaust. A rich mixture, i.e. too high of a fuel to air ratio, can occur due to improper maintenance of many parts; primarily O2 sensor, temperature sensor (cold engines burn more fuel), timing belt, carburetor, and air intake filter. In addition to a rich mixture, clogged intake manifolds misaligned valves, late ignition timing, dirty fuel injectors and weak spark plugs each cause fuel-injected engines to lose efficiency at an alarming rate.

    By focusing on just what quick lube stations tell you is necessary for proper maintenance, a fleet can be losing thousands of dollars a year on unnecessary fuel expenses. As a fleet manager, it is important to ensure that your fleet vehicles are in full working order from the wheels to the spark plugs. Protect the bottom line and don’t make costly mistakes; utilizing a fleet card is the first step, and proper maintenance of fleet vehicles is next in line.

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  • Now that you're replacing your fleet, the decision needs to be made on whether to settle on a gasoline or diesel powered fleet. Rather than just jumping in and saying that one or the other is the superior choice, it's important to know the differences between the two engines aside from what goes into the tank.

    Difference between Diesel and Gasoline

    Right from the start of the refinement process, distinctions emerge that set both combustion systems far apart in the eyes of a consumer.  At the turn of the century, diesel engines were noisy, aggressively vibrational and released a cloud of noxious exhaust. However, many of these drawbacks have been reduced since, while still being able to retain the advantages that originally piqued consumer interest.

    The primary distinctions that most consumers focus on in regards to these two options is price at the pump and fuel efficiency. Understandably so because these are two of the most prevalent topics in today's petroleum driven economy.  In terms of diesel, consumers are seeing a higher price at the pump than "regular unleaded" and in many areas higher than "premium unleaded" as well.  While this can be a breaking point for a fleet manager who is purchasing 1000 gallons a month, the 11% increase in energy output that diesel provides generally offsets this price difference due to the distance allowed between fill-ups. 

    This price dichotomy is additionally negated by the method of fuel-injection that is utilized in diesel engines; diesel is injected directly into the cylinders rather than being mixed with incoming air within the intake manifold.  Direct fuel-injection causes little fuel to be wasted in the down-stroke of combustion.

    Then, if hauling heavy weight is necessary, direct fuel-injection combined with lack of spark plugs create a high torque environment that often doubles the lb-ft output of gasoline. The aforementioned higher energy output is due to the higher energy density of diesel which leads to a high compression ratio (17:1 for diesel versus a 9:1 ratio for gasoline). Which means that diesel creates low-end torque, while gas creates high-end power. An example of this is clearly seen with comparing a market leader's 5.7L V8 gas engine to one of its 6.7L I6 turbo diesel blocks. The former produces 383 Hp and 400 lb-ft of Torque at 5,600 RPM while the latter puts out only 385 HP at 2,800 RPM but an astounding 850 lb-ft of Torque at 1,600 RPM.

    However, this high-compression ratio and torque output has one downside that is possibly offset by longevity. All of the pressure that is produced in a diesel system has a detrimental effect on the internal components; cylinder heads, shafts, block, pistons, and valves.  Beefing up these parts creates a significant weight and price difference from the gasoline options.  Choosing the 6.7L diesel from the above example is a $7,795 price increase for the engine alone; an additional $2,650 is needed for the transmission swap.  Yet, because the internal structure has greater support, a diesel engine can be expected to last more than 200,000 miles on the low end of the spectrum, creating more time between vehicle replacement schedules.

    As a fleet manager, deciding on which vehicles are being utilized is just as important as who is driving.

    The Better Fuel Solution?

    Does your company earn profits through quick trips around a small region without hauling much of a payload, and need to keep fuel costs at a minimum? Choosing a gas fleet should be strongly considered, because of the easily accessible, cheaper and cleaner fuel and smooth acceleration. However, if fuel economy is important even if it means spending a bit more in the short term and long distances are travelled towing heavy loads on a regular basis then it is recommended that a diesel fleet be your next selection. This is because of a diesel engine's greater fuel-efficiency, high torque and extended life span. Remember, saving a few bucks in the beginning might end up costing your company a fortune through the life of a fleet.

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