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Maintaining a Fleet Fuel Budget: 7 Factors Impacting the Bottom Line

Cost management is a vital part of every fleet manager’s day-to-day operations. Whether sourcing new vehicles, hiring additional staff, purchasing new equipment, or maintaining regular vehicle maintenance schedules, there is no shortage of processes or routines that impact the company’s bottom line.

However, one business expense that plagues many fleet managers is the rising cost of fuel spending. While fuel spending may seem like a predictable fleet expense, fleet managers are often surprised about how quickly their budgets exceed this area. 

Below we’ll discuss seven things potentially impacting your fleet’s fuel spending, along with steps you can take to stay on budget.

Bad Driving Behavior

Lack of visibility into bad vehicle driving habits is one of the major contributing factors to poor fuel efficiency among fleets. Click To Tweet

Typically, when evaluating overall spend on fuel for your fleet vehicles, the first place most managers look is mileage reports. However, while MPG trends may contain early identifiers of declining performance in the vehicle’s efficiency, the first place to look is often at the operator.

Driving behavior plays a significant factor in how good or bad a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is. In fact, poor driving habits like excessive speeding and accelerating or harsh braking is so impactful that it can add up to 33% in additional spending every year. Using a fleet monitoring solution and enforcing better driving habits across the fleet will go a long way in getting better MPG out of all of your fleet vehicles.

Poor Route Optimization

Optimal route planning is an effective way for fleet managers to get better control over their fuel spending. Poorly planned routes keep drivers on the roads longer, increase idling times, and impact overall fleet productivity levels.

While making incremental changes to specific driving routes may seem to have little impact, making gradual changes across an entire fleet of vehicles will start to have significant effects on the bottom line. Fleet management solutions that support telematics are an excellent way for fleet managers to get more visibility and control over their drivers’ routes. Powered by GPS technology and real-time updates and alerts, fleet managers can use telematics to help them make better decisions regarding how their routes are formatted and ultimately reduce fuel waste. 

Inadequate Tire Pressure

While driving behavior and overall engine performance play an important factor in fuel efficiency, many fleet managers undervalue the importance of a vehicle’s tire pressure. Tires significantly impact a vehicle’s fuel consumption, especially in fleets where maximizing MPG is an integral part of staying within budget.

Drivers and technicians should regularly check the tire pressure of a vehicle to ensure they are spec’d appropriately for the type of vehicles and travel conditions. Under-inflated tires impact a vehicle’s performance, making it harder to accelerate and putting a more considerable dent in overall fuel spend. Keeping tire checks a part of your fleet driver’s regular vehicle pre-trip inspection process is one of the many ways fleet managers can make incremental improvements in their fleet’s overall fuel spending.

Factory Vehicle Calibrations

Fleet Fuel Budgeting

When sourcing fleet vehicles in today’s economic climate, fuel efficiency is often one of the main selling features of commercial vehicle lines. However, many fail to realize that most vehicles, regardless of how well they are marketed, are limited by their default vehicle calibrations. 

Factory vehicle calibrations are primarily designed to meet the performance requirements of multiple operator types. This means that factory vehicle performance isn’t optimized to offer maximum fuel efficiency for specific use types in most cases. However, by utilizing fleet management solutions like Derive VQ Efficiency, fleet managers can unlock the hidden fuel efficiency of their vehicles using OBD-II firmware technology and flexible performance optimization platforms.

Excessive Personal Use of Vehicles

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, organizations have gotten used to relying on remote teams to manage the business’s day-to-day operations. This is especially the case in commercial fleets with drivers working out of their vehicles and utilizing them as remote offices.

However, while there are many benefits to keeping your fleets operational during COVID-19, maintaining an all-remote fleet can lead to unnecessary added fuel expenses when employees use their vehicles for excessive personal use. While most organizations allow drivers to use their work vehicles for certain amounts of personal use, not outlining clear expectations in this area can lead to a significant increase in fuel spending. Implementing vehicle monitoring solutions is another way to enforce compliance in this area to ensure drivers accurately record personal vs. work-related vehicle usage and support the organization’s overall direction.

Lack of Regular Vehicle Maintenance

In order to get the best fuel efficiency out of your vehicles, it’s crucial to ensure you maintain a healthy vehicle maintenance schedule. However, while most fleets have some measure of a general maintenance routine for their vehicles, more times than not, organizations apply more of a reactive approach to caring for their vehicles instead of a proactive one. This can lead to poor performance of the vehicle over time, in turn impacting its fuel efficiency.

One way to stay on track with vehicle maintenance is by implementing strict policies on how and when vehicles should be brought in for servicing. Servicing schedules should also take into consideration the age of the vehicle, the type of road conditions it typically is driven on, engine mileage, general wear and tear, and any other variable that may lead to a higher likelihood of needed repairs. Catching more minor repairs early once they surface can pay dividends long-term when looking at the overall fuel spend of the vehicle. 

No Fleet Management Solution

Keeping your fuel budget under control is an essential task for any fleet manager, but staying on top of trends that may be impacting your fuel spend is challenging without the right tools or solutions.

Fleet management solutions give fleet managers the visibility and control they need to stay on top of their performance. By combining the power of telematics, vehicle calibrations, and automated vehicle monitoring technology, fleet management solutions like Derive VQ help fleet managers improve fuel efficiency, decrease unnecessary spending, and ensure higher levels of productivity all in one shot. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping your fleet performing the way it should while staying within budget isn’t always an easy task. However, by identifying these seven areas that may be impacting your fuel budget and addressing them as needed, you’ll ensure you get the most out of your vehicles and create a sustainable path for growth.