While electrification is big news, the fact remains that in 2021, until the end of November, more than 1,500,000 cars were sold (of which fleet and business accounted for just over half) and petrol and diesel either fully or partially powered more than 1,375,500 of them.
So, the price of fuel and the importance of improving fuel economy is still vital to the operation of the vast majority of fleets and businesses. And that means that best practice fuel management still needs to be employed.
This means ensuring that employees are buying fuel at the best possible prices, and also you are measuring, and managing fuel usage – not least because the volatility of prices looks set to continue into 2022.
Some of the actions you can take include using fuel cards to obtain discounts, or to access a particular network. Allstar’s Discount Diesel offers up to 10p per litre off fuel purchases, while using the Allstar Supermarket+ card means drivers are steered towards buying at those locations, which often offer cheaper fuel.
Then, analyse which vehicles are costing you most money in fuel by using online reporting portals, allowing you to shape procurement strategy, and schedule particular jobs and routes for those cars and vans with lower running costs.
Educate and train drivers too. If drivers can see how much they are costing the business, relative to better performers, you can take the first steps to making them better and more efficient, either through training that enhances their skills or by showing them how to source cheaper fuel.
While still managing your petrol and diesel vehicles, you may well be thinking about how you can start to insert electric cars and vans into the mix.
It’s often a question of timing: the right vehicles to do the right job, at the right time and for the right price. But being able to pinpoint that moment is not always easy. For a start you need to understand the current cost of your vehicles, and the future cost of replacing them with electric ones.
Your vehicle provider should be able to provide some of the insight into this in terms of upfront and tax costs, but for many fleets understanding the in-life costs of EVs will take on a piecemeal approach, through trial and testing. It may be a case of pulling together statistics as each one joins the fleet and building a picture of exactly how they work, and what situations, operations and employee types suits them.
To get a full picture you will have to take in not just the cost of the vehicle itself, but the infrastructure demands around it. So that includes understanding how you might charge these vehicles.
If this takes place on the road, then systems have to be put in place to allow drivers to find and access suitable chargers, and then pay and reclaim for charging too.
If they are going to do a lot of their charging at home, then you may need to put in place a process that allows you to understand how much that is costing the business, and gives the employee some mechanism to recoup that cost fairly.
With the Allstar One Electric card, you can structure many of the processes for public charging, while Allstar’s partnership with Mina allows you to ascertain how much vehicles are costing to charge at home, and automatically reimburse employees the right amount.
With new vehicle availability likely to be low through much of 2022, it is more important than ever to keep your current fleet fit and healthy, and crucially, on the road.
That means using a service provider who can get your vehicles in to a workshop when you need it, and have parts ready and technicians on hand to repair and maintain them quickly.
Vehicle downtime will become a key challenge for 2022, because with potential shortages in rental and replacement vehicles, any car or van not on the road could impact on your productivity.
Allstar’s ServicePoint fleet maintenance management helps to expedite many of these issues, through pre-negotiated, competitive, rates at hundreds of locations, which means that you can book the vehicle in for work quickly and easily.
The integrated rules engine validates quoted labour hours and highlights inconsistencies, meaning that you can have confidence in costs, while downloadable reports mean you can closely monitor your maintenance activities.
The appearance of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has underlined for many business the importance of being agile, and to have a workforce that can work from home or other locations at a moment’s notice.
But this also means having systems in place that can help this happen, and one of those is in payments. There’s no point having pay and reclaim processes for fuel and everyday business travel expenses which are manual, when employee and managers don’t meet physically very often. Just as with smarter working, business need smarter payments.
Secure payment systems should mean any issues are likely to be flagged up immediately, ensuring that employees are not targeted by fraudsters. And cards with individually tailored permissions and limits via online portals to control spending according to your preferences ensure that employee can only pay for approved types of goods and services at pre-determined levels.
Such systems ensure there are no grey areas, or that mistakes are made that could cause the business unnecessary expense. The Allstar Plus 'all in one' business credit and fuel card offers this, for example.