Spiralling petrol and diesel prices have become a major concern for businesses, accounting for around 20% of the total cost of ownership within a typical high mileage fleet and being the largest single factor in whole life costs by quite a margin.
As of June 2022, fuel prices are at their highest level ever – reaching more than £1.80 per litre for petrol and £1.86 for diesel. This means for a high-mileage fleet vehicle that travels 30,000 miles in a year, fuelling costs could total around £4,500 per annum.
However, there is a new tool available to fleet managers when it comes to minimising fuel spending. Increasing numbers of cars and vans are now available with connected vehicle technology, providing hitherto unavailable insights into vehicle status and driver behaviour on the road in real time – without the need for a telematics-style black box.
Soon, epyx plans to make a connected vehicle solution available to fleets based on this data - and fuel management will be one of its key capabilities. epyx is a sister company of Allstar Business Solutions that specialises in e-commerce solutions for the automotive sector. Here are some of the ways in which information drawn from these cars and vans, presented using dashboards that we have designed for maximum effectiveness, could help in the very near future.
The simplest ways to reduce fuel spend are to make fewer trips by switching to alternative modes of operation where possible. Examples of this could include increased use of video-conferencing or, for logistics and delivery activity, batching jobs within time constraints to decrease the frequency of round trips.
A connected vehicle solution could help you to understand the total mileage of each vehicle on your fleet using real time odometer data from each car or van. Recognising which are accruing the most trips and biggest distances will identify key areas of focus.
One of the biggest long-term factors in fuel consumption across your business is the type of vehicles you operate. There can be substantial variances between ostensibly similar models and a connected vehicle solution can help to highlight differences in real world fuel use, helping you to become better informed when it comes to the future choices you make.
This can be particularly important when considering the transition to electric vehicles, where specific routes and driving styles can also enable you to decide which cars and vans are the most suitable candidates to be replaced with a zero emissions alternative.
Within commercial vehicle fleets, there is the added component of payload, the size and weight of which will have a noticeable impact on efficiency. Ensuring that the vehicle is ‘rightsized’ to the required load is crucial to maximising fuel efficiency. It’s a question of matching capacity with what needs moving - it’s simply always going to cost more to carry a small load in a big van.
Connected vehicle solutions could help to identify which of your fuel-intensive vehicles are accruing significant mileage, enabling you to potentially switch towards more efficient alternatives and accessing savings.
While the number of miles driven contributes significantly to fuel spend, so can the amount of time that a vehicle is stationary with the engine running – something known as idling.
Using real-time location and ignition data, a connected vehicle solution can enable you to measure the length of time that vehicles are idling across your fleet.
Understanding how and where idle times occur can contribute to schedule optimisation including minimising time to load and unload, batching similar trips and improved routing. Actively managing these factors will lead to increased vehicle utilisation and even potentially allow the overall fleet size to be reduced.
A further major component in driving down fuel costs is the efficiency of each individual’s driving style. Behaviours such as rapid acceleration, harsh breaking and tight cornering can all impact on the real world fuel efficiency of a car or van.
A connected vehicle solution could enable fleet managers to monitor for these issues across their vehicles and drivers, allowing for intervention, education and incentives to help minimise fuel use – as well as increasing driver safety.
Like many fleets, you may use a fuel a card such as those offered by Allstar Business Solutions. The data covering fuel volumes and expenditure they provide dovetails with connected vehicle solutions to offer a whole new level of insight into where petrol and diesel is being bought and used. There is huge potential for changing purchasing habits to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Fuel is threatening to become a black hole at the centre of fleet whole life costs. However, the availability of connected vehicle solutions – arriving from epyx soon – will allow a whole host of new management strategies to be adopted that could help to make a genuine difference to expenditure.