Man driving a sportive car

How eco-driving can help businesses keep fuel costs in check

It’s clear that 2022 has proved to be challenging for businesses – interest rates up twice in three months, inflation up to 7% and energy costs up 25%. All this after two years of coping with the pandemic.

With this, some are seeing their profit levels eroded while others are having to make significant changes to business models to just break even. Many are analysing to see where cost savings can be made. And whilst not all have struggled through the past two years, it’s important for all to look at the way in which they operate. Creating efficiencies now through areas like fleet management, might help to prevent potential issues in the future.

Getting fuel spend under control

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that average petrol prices rose by 12.6p per litre between February and March this year, the largest monthly rise since records began in 1990 in the UK. It’s a trend that has been echoed worldwide. Soaring prices mean the cost of running and maintaining vehicles is more expensive than ever before.

There are however ways in which businesses, whether they run a fleet of many vehicles or operate using a couple, can rationalise and reduce these costs. Implementing the right software alongside an intelligent approach is a primary to save when it comes to fleet and vehicle management.

There is a concept currently being championed across the industry called ‘eco-driving’.  As the name implies, eco-driving will cut carbon emissions, which for many companies has become a key challenge in recent years. Eco-driving can also have a significant impact on the company bottom line. Research company, OVE Consulting, estimates that eco-driving can create cost savings of up to 25%. For example, a construction company with ten vehicles, each consuming about 400 gallons of unleaded petrol per year, could save over £6000 through adopting eco-driving.

Car driving down a tree-lined laneThe scoop on eco-driving

So what then is eco-driving and how should fleet managers employ it?

It starts before a driver gets into their vehicle: it’s about committing to undertake checks we know we should do, but don’t always get round to. Underinflated tyres increase rolling resistance, resulting in up to 5% more fuel consumption, yet how many of us check the pressure of our tyres at least once a month?

Fleet owners should also periodically check to see what their drivers are carrying in their vehicles. Storing unnecessary equipment in vehicles can lead to higher energy consumption.

Best practice driving style

But the big savings in fuel costs often occur when the driver is on the road. A good driving style where drivers are maintaining a steady speed to limit unnecessary fuel loss whilst keeping a safe distance between theirs and other vehicles to avoid harsh breaking is key.

Gear changes should be around 2,500 (petrol) and 2,000 (diesel) rpm. By using an engine optimally, fuel consumption could be reduced by 4.3%[1].

There are other ways to cut fuel costs. For instance when thinking about windows down or AC on. Generally, it is seen as best practice only use the AC when really needed or when you are driving above a certain speed (depending on vehicle size this ranges between 45mph and 75mph). Another good tip is to avoid unnecessary idling, by turning off the engine once the vehicle is parked or if the vehicle has been idle for more than 20 seconds.

Guaranteeing best practice

Eco-driving is largely common sense, the difficulty for fleet managers is how can they ensure that their drivers follow these guidelines.

Implementing a vehicle tracking solution can give companies visibility of how their staff are driving, enabling them to spot issues and support drivers.

Some vehicle tracking solutions can be set to assign a driving score to each driver which is calculated using various benchmarks such as speed, acceleration and braking. This would allow businesses to quickly identify poor driving behaviours through a league table, which could then be used to encourage better driving habits. The data not only shows where employees can modify their driving behaviour, it also makes them aware of the impact on the company’s bottom line.

One Quartix client reported to us that a driver with above average speed scores totalled £1200 in fuel consumption, £96 in workshop repairs and just 1.5 hours of workshop labour time over a 3-month period. In the same 3 months, a driver with a poor speed score, covering similar mileage, used £150 extra fuel, cost an extra £2120 in repairs and incurred 29.5 hours of workshop labour.

The 2030 requirement to switch to EV fleet solutions can be quite complex to navigate as there are many factors to consider. The good news is that there are savings to be made now, which can help make the switch easier.


Author: Richard Lilwall, CEO of Quartix

[1] http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/32561/1/32561%200954407017702985.pdf

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