8 Ways Truck Fleets Can Curb Fuel Costs
After 2020 saw some of the lowest fuel prices of the last several years, the cost of regular gasoline and diesel fuel has been on a notable upswing since the start of 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 1 Because fuel prices are so volatile, fleet managers need to take extra care in managing this aspect of their business. Here are eight solutions fleets can take advantage of to keep fuel spend down.
Identify the Right Vehicles for the Fleet
Before making any major decisions to the fleet regarding fuel spend, fleet managers must try to objectively look at the scope of their entire vehicle portfolio, overall, and understand how these assets play a role in making the company run successfully.
For example, if a fleet predominantly consists of pickup trucks, but its drivers don’t really haul work materials, maybe it should consider implementing more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as sedans or SUVs. This type of change serves as an example of the fleet making rightsizing decisions.
Indeed, consider vehicle mpg across the fleet, overall, and consider making any necessary changes where incidental excessive fuel spend is happening.
Once an optimal fleet vehicle portfolio has been established, being on top of maintaining a consistent preventive maintenance schedule for the vehicles is key to help keep fuel costs down.
According to the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, preventive maintenance can provide 5 to 10 percent in fuel savings. 2
“Even a vehicle that is running safely and reliably may still enjoy substantial fuel economy savings from additional or more optimized maintenance,” the organization said.
For example, identifying which type of motor oil is best suited for a vehicle type should help improve fuel economy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using the suggested grade of motor oil from an auto manufacturer can improve gas mileage by 1%–2%. 3
Keeping Up with Tires
The U.S. Department of Energy has also said drivers who keep their tires inflated to the proper pressure, can improve gas mileage by at least 0.6% on average, and up to 3% in some cases.
Proper tire inflation will also help reduce the likelihood of tire blowouts, which, if they occur, can negatively impact an entirely different spend category for fleets, beyond what is being impacted in fuel.
Proper wheel alignment is also crucial to improving vehicle fuel efficiency.
According to Investopedia 4, misaligned tires will drag the vehicle and reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10%, equating to about 31 cents per gallon. Misaligned tires can also cause uneven tire wear, which may result in lower gas mileage.
Address Fleet Driver Behavior
Additional fuel savings can be found beyond the benefits of proper vehicle selection and regular maintenance. In many ways, ensuring drivers are “behaving” properly on the road is just as important for fleets, and this goes beyond simply monitoring for safety.
Drivers who are navigating inefficient routes for the business, conducting excessive idling, overspending by purchasing premium fuel types not needed for certain vehicles, and engaging in fuel fraud are all items fleets should be mindful of their drivers about.
Establishing and enforcing a fleet policy that clearly states the dos and don’ts for company drivers that may lead to excessive fuel spend is critical, as is regularly updating and re-educating these drivers of the policy details as often as possible.
Proper Vehicle Routing Saves Time and Fuel
Having transparency of the routes that drivers are taking is critical for more effectively monitoring fuel spend, but if fleets aren’t utilizing telematics technologies to help in this area of their business they won’t be able to fully identify issues.
Indeed, there is available route optimization software that is designed to help fleets identify the most efficient routes for drivers, which can help cut back on unnecessary miles driven, ultimately reducing fuel spend.
These solutions will help fleets be more prepared to locate the closest person for a fleet’s next delivery, service call, or emergency. Having this information more readily available helps fleets make smarter decisions about driver actions.
“We can know where they are in an instant and can contact them if need be to detour them to an unexpected service call if we are already in the area,” said Randy G., a fleet professional who has taken advantage of GPS Trackit’s Route Optimization tools.
Cut Vehicle Idling
Speaking of the benefits of telematics technologies, idling reduction is a huge part of cutting back on fuel expenses for fleets, and these solutions are also able to help fleets in a big way here. Indeed, a medium-heavy truck may waste approximately 0.8 gallons of gas for every hour it idles, as does a diesel delivery truck, according to U.S. government testing.
Jim Bernier, the owner of lawn and landscape fleet, Spring Green, spoke of how telematics offered transparency into idling excesses seen in his fleet.
“When the gas costs went through the roof, I was looking at idle times and going, why aren’t you turning your truck off?” he said.
Excessive truck idling may also ultimately lead to premature engine wear, adding to additional expenses beyond fuel spend. According to the Government of Oklahoma, idling accelerates the replacement of vehicle fluids like engine and transmission oil and engine coolant without an increase of odometer miles.
Introduce Fuel Cards
Adding fuel card capabilities and telematics technologies will further help provide transparency into how drivers impact fuel spend in the fleet and help companies better manage their budgets.
Following are some specific benefits to incorporating a fleet fuel card:
Preferred providers – If fleets get fuel discounts with certain gas companies, they can ensure that drivers take advantage of these savings by filling up only at approved locations.
Car misuse prevention – Integrating fuel card use with a GPS tracking system will allow fleets to ensure that company cards are used only for the fleet and not for personal vehicles.
Track spending – Fuel cards are only used for the purchase of fuel, allowing fleets to get a clearer picture of driver spend.
Adding Alt-Fuel Vehicles
Considering the addition of alternative fuel vehicles into the fleet is also a route some companies may want to consider when looking to cut back on fuel spend, but there has to be realistic feasibility with incorporating the technology.
One of the clearest benefits of implementing alt-fuel vehicles is how they can positively improve a fleet’s overall average mpg, with a particular focus on hybrid or electric vehicles.
However, there are additional considerations to the technology that fleets need to factor with alt-fuel vehicles, e.g. if the company has a sustainability initiative and is trying to meet goals related to it. Is the company able to support/accommodate additional infrastructure for these vehicles, as needed?
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help you protect your fleet assets and your drivers with GPS tracking and telematics, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
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