Ways to Reduce Your Fuel Costs Without Sacrificing Performance
Fuel is considered one of the main contributors to a fleet’s operating costs, averaging up to 60% of a company’s total fleet operating budget. COVID had a significant impact on the prices of consumer goods and services. Fuel prices were flirting with dipping below $1.00 a gallon in 2019 to an excess of $5.00 per gallon in 2022 — and even higher, depending on what area of the country you are in. As the pandemic winds down globally, fleet managers must find ways to minimize operating costs to maximize their budget.
Fleet managers must go for the low-hanging fruit — typically the largest expense in their operating budget. Fuel. How do you cut back on a necessary element of your operations? Less fuel is not an option. However, there are ways to reduce fuel costs without sacrificing performance. The first step is to figure out what your fuel costs are.
Implement and Follow a Vehicle Policy
A written fleet policy should be part of your company’s business strategy. It’s important to document rules governing the use of company vehicles. Prohibited actions like driving aggressively, failure to follow traffic laws, routine inspections of vehicles pre and post-shift, and routine maintenance are some of the policies that should be outlined. This way drivers are aware of the rules and know what actions will be taken if they aren’t adhered to.
The vehicle policy doesn’t just keep drivers accountable and protect the vehicles. It also plays a big part in a fuel reduction plan.
5 Ways to Reduce Fuel Costs in Your Fleet
1. Driver behavior training programs not only teach safe driving skills, but they also help reduce fuel consumption. Fleet drivers are steering the cost of fuel for your fleet. They are the ones operating the vehicles on a daily basis, so it’s essential that they learn eco-friendly driving practices. Driver behavior training programs help drivers learn things like proper accelerating and decelerating, the importance of maintaining a steady speed (following posted speed limits), and defensive driving techniques. Each one of these, if followed, helps increase fuel efficiency.
2. Minimizing idle times not only maximizes fuel efficiency, but also dramatically reduces air pollution from the vehicle. An idling vehicle can burn up to a half gallon of fuel per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, although the exact amount of fuel wasted depends on the size of the engine and air conditioner use. And idling for just 30 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. Shutting vehicles down rather than letting them idle in non-driving situations reduces fuel consumption and lowers emissions.
Not only does idling waste fuel, but it also damages engine components that could take the vehicle out of the fleet for repairs and result in higher maintenance costs over time.
3. Proper tire inflation improves fuel economy, increases the life of the tire, and makes driving safer. Underinflated tires tend to run warmer. This heat buildup can result in internal tire damage and blowouts. It also reduces fuel efficiency by forcing the engine to work harder. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 1-psi drop in air pressure, you can expect gas mileage to drop by 0.4 percent.
Myth: Over-inflated tires improve gas mileage.
Truth: Overinflation makes the tire more susceptible to punctures and greatly reduces vehicle handling. It also causes irregular tire wear that shortens the life of the tire.
Proper tire inflation improves fuel consumption, keeps the vehicle out of the repair shop, and keeps the driver safe.
4. Routine maintenance extends the lifespan of the vehicle, keeps it operating efficiently, reduces repair costs over time, and increases fuel efficiency. A routine maintenance plan allows problems to be identified early and taken care of. Clogged air filters reduce fuel efficiency in vehicles that run on regular fuel. In diesel engines, it can impact acceleration. When things like oil changes and emissions tests are done on a scheduled basis, it increases vehicle efficiency and decreases the likelihood of expensive repairs later down the road.
5. Route planning enables workers to navigate their routes in the most efficient way possible, eliminating unnecessary backtracking and the risk of being lost. When driver’s routes are strategically planned by vehicle type, dimensions, size, and load, scheduling delivery of heavy loads first, and combining relevant deliveries, fuel use is significantly reduced. Planning optimal routes for drivers helps maximize vehicle efficiency by reducing miles driven, stops at signals, time spent in traffic, and the number of vehicles needed for routes.
Implementing these solutions will enable you to optimize your fleet to permanently reduce fuel consumption. It could seem overwhelming, especially if you have a large fleet. Technology has made improving fuel efficiency streamlined and simple.
Derive VQ Efficiency Software Solution Improves Fuel Efficiency
Implementing an engine calibration software solution for your can greatly improve the fuel efficiency of the entire fleet. This customer success story demonstrates the power of technology and how it can be a vital driver of fuel reduction costs for your fleet of vehicles.
Comcast Reduced Fuel Costs By $75 Million
A Real Solution:
As the 5th largest commercial fleet in the nation, Comcast was looking to find a way to make their thousands of daily service calls more fuel-efficient. After a thorough analysis, they chose VQ Efficiency™ to optimize idle RPM, implement a speed governor, tailor shifting points, and manage torque settings. The results have been significant:
Not only does the Derive Platform reduce fuel consumption by up to 8% while driving and up to 20% while idling, it also supports your GHG efforts and driver safety. By adding speed limiters, managing fuel consumption, and smoothing out shifting patterns, you can support your fleet from a cost, emissions, and safety perspective — all in just an 11 minute installation.
Download this case study to read more about how you can reduce fuel costs with the Derive Platform.
[Get the Whitepaper]