The cost of motoring is soaring and by the end of the summer of 2012 the average cost of diesel will be stuck at around 150p per litre. With this in mind FleetMatics Director of Marketing for Europe, Richard Brooks maintains that smarter driving habits and proactive vehicle maintenance will help fleet owners save fuel.
The most obvious ways to reduce fuel consumption for any vehicle is to reduce speeding and eliminate poor driving habits. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), which has been offering Smarter Driving tips to fleet drivers for several years, by applying simple driving tactics typical improvements in fuel consumption of up to 15% can be achieved.
While most standard GPS vehicle tracking solutions can provide accurate speed information about each vehicle tracked, Richard Brooks asserts: "The best fleet management systems also include alerts that will, for example, notify the fleet owner when a vehicle exceeds a set speed threshold."
Although each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), fuel mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. According to advice on the AA's (Automobile Association's) website travelling on a motorway at 80–85mph, rather than 70mph, can increase fuel consumption by 25% or more – "This can translate to hundreds of pounds worth of fuel wasted for a fleet of vehicles over a month," comments Mr Brooks.
Excessive idling is another tremendous cause of wasteful fuel consumption: Any time a vehicle is idling, it is realising zero miles per gallon, reducing its average fuel economy. Plus, according to Ford Motor Company, every hour that a vehicle is idling is the equivalent of approximately 25 miles of driving. Contrary to popular belief, Transport for London (TfL) tests show that vehicle engines can be switched on and off more than 100 times an hour with no discernible loss of performance. Restarting an engine after a minute or longer uses less fuel and causes less pollution than if it is idling.
But it's not just smarter driving behaviour that can help fleet owners save fuel; it is a known fact that those vehicles that receive regular maintenance run more efficiently and use less fuel than other vehicles. Regular maintenance will also increase the life expectancy of a vehicle and will reduce the chances of a vehicle breaking down, causing additional expenses to the firm from missed deliveries or uncompleted jobs, as well as expensive repair bills.
According to new research by Michelin, following its 2011 Fill Up With Air campaign, UK motorists are wasting £337 million on fuel every year by driving with under-inflated tyres. The research's findings clearly highlight the importance of keeping tyres inflated to the correct pressure, and are hard facts to ignore when trying to run a cost-effective fleet of vehicles.
Automated alerts can be set up for each vehicle on the fleet management system to notify the fleet owner when a service is due; these alerts can be based upon calendar time, engine-on time, or mileage. Fleet management systems also allow owners to remotely monitor such things as motor oil life, engine fault codes and emissions control system status and be notified should there be a problem.
As government regulations become more stringent, regarding acceptable greenhouse gas emissions, and pressures from an increasingly competitive and environmentally conscious free-market economy grow, it is time for all businesses to take a closer look at their fleet performance and operating practices. Once baselines have been established, realistic goals can be set, and results can be easily measured by a reliable fleet management system.
Richard Brooks commented saying, "If you haven't already, make the smart and green choice by looking into fleet management technology for your company today. Optimising fuel usage can generate savings that translate directly to the bottom line."