When fleet operators choose vehicles for their fleet use, several factors influence the decision. Among the most important attributes fleet managers look for is long-term reliability, ensuring that vehicles will not have to be replaced until absolutely necessary. But when is it time to upgrade or replace your fleet vehicles? With changing automotive technologies and workloads, knowing when your fleet may need refreshing can be difficult. Consider the following guidelines to see if your fleet could use a change.
1. Keep current.
If your fleet is still stocked with a number of older model years, you may be missing out on features that not only make your work easier, but can also increase safety. Newer vehicles have better environmental standards and utilize new technologies to assist your drivers in the course of their daily work. For example, voice-activated GPS and telephone features in newer cars put your drivers at less risk for distracted driving, keeping them safe.
2. Keep an eye on costs.
Holding on to a vehicle may make sense to avoid the price of purchasing a new vehicle, but older vehicles can come with a whole set of other costs. Wear and tear makes maintenance a much more frequent and costly operation, and the lower fuel efficiency that comes with an aging vehicle costs you more money on fuel. When repair bills start piling up, it may be time to reconsider purchasing a new vehicle.
3. Invest in Efficiency.
Newer vehicles are more fuel-efficient, from new gasoline engines to hybrid vehicles and alternative fuel technologies. It may cost you more in the short term to purchase a hybrid vehicle for deliveries around town, but the fuel savings will help to pay for the cost of that vehicle within just a few years.
4. Use Vehicles that Work for You.
Invest in fleet vehicles that work best for your business, even if they cost a little more. If you are making daily deliveries but purchase vehicles with low capacity due to cost, you may find yourself making two or three times as many trips per day, spending far more than the price difference in fuel costs alone.
5. Wait Until You’re Sure.
While it is important to reinvest in your fleet from time to time, you should make sure that you really need new vehicles before purchasing or trading in. Making changes too early and too often will put a strain on your company’s bottom line faster than any inefficiencies or repair costs.
Keeping your fleet current, well-maintained and running smoothly will keep your company working well into the future. Make sure that your fleet stays on the right track with good buying habits. And, as always, don’t forget good fuel management!
Photo courtesy of Jeff Weese and re-used under the Creative Commons license.