Five fuel efficiency myths steering businesses towards £1bn fleet losses

Misconceptions about how to reduce fuel costs is causing as much as £1bn in unnecessary fleet management costs per year and resulting in needless emissions for English business, according to new research.

The Energy Saving Trust has busted five ‘myths’ surrounding fleet management that are resulting in higher costs and emissions for businesses, based on real-world examples from the savings seen by companies that have undertaken the Trust’s new Fleet Service Review.

Five fuel efficiency myths about fleet management

1) Small fleet means small impact on the environment

With around 480,000 UK SMEs managing vehicle fleets, the impact of these fleets upon the environment should not be underestimated, according to the Trust. Fleets of any size will still negatively impact the environment. The implementation of green fleet management practices could help reduce emissions and cut costs by encouraging sustainable travel and reducing unnecessary trips.

2) Driver training won’t help fuel consumption

Training drivers to reduce idling, harsh braking and gear changing can cut fuel consumption up to 15% per driver, the Trust says. This will result in significant annual savings even on the lower end of the estimation.

3) The lease/purchase of hybrid vehicles is prohibitive

The Trust suggests that smaller companies consider a whole-life cost approach when considering potential fleet vehicles. In doing this, the most carbon and cost efficient vehicles can be identified for fleets.

4) Electric vehicles have very limited range, particularly in winter

The range of electric vehicles in particular has seen significant increase in the last few years. 100% electric vehicles can cover up to 190 mile range on one charge with hybrid vehicles covering further distances with the ability to switch to petrol or diesel when the charge depletes.

5) Not enough charging points outside of town or city centres

According to the Trust, there are roughly 6,300 charging points in England according which vary from slow, fast and rapid charging stations. Referring to websites such as zap-map to identify charging locations should help gain a better understanding of the viability of electric vehicles for fleets.

Key considerations

Director of Transport at the Energy Saving Trust Andrew Benfield said: “There is a widespread misunderstanding of how much costs can be reduced just by making a few small changes.

“A common view we have encountered is that hybrid vehicles are considered too expensive, but it may be that operators aren’t adopting a whole-life approach to measuring this. Factoring in fuel costs and National Insurance contributions – both of which are linked directly to the vehicle’s emissions – are the two most important elements. Lease price, service and maintenance costs as well as congestion charges that should be considered.

“Little changes like this will help businesses make more informed vehicle choices, which can make a big difference to lifetime running costs.”

To help drive change in this area, the Trust has launched a Fleet Service Review for both private and public sector organisations. Fully funded by the Department for Transport, this free review of English companies’ fleet operations aims change the way businesses think about their transport options.

A spokesperson for the Trust told edie that the review has resulted in a saving of £400 per vehicle per year, which would equate to nearly two million tonnes of CO2 being prevented from entering the atmosphere.

‘Small difference’

Alongside the launch of this review scheme, the Trust has conducted new research into the fuel efficiency of SME fleets. The research, carried out by Sewells found that fuel efficiency is second only to reliability in vehicle consideration by SMEs, while 10% of SMEs say they’re ‘very likely’ to seek advice on fuel savings –  but less than a quarter of those know who to go to.

“There are 480,000 English SMEs responsible for 2.4million vehicles on our roads – a small difference here can make huge difference to the environment, but perhaps more importantly for business owners, to the amount spent on fuelling the country’s businesses,” added Benfield.

Alex Baldwin

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