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.
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.
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.