Fuel efficiency on a large scale will require a great deal of time and investment from a fleet department, Fleet News magazine have put together “10 steps for a fuel efficient fleet“.
Having looked through the advice I do agree with all the statements but in my experience feel that there are a few extra pointers to watch out for.
Their first point suggests promoting low co2/ fuel efficient vehicles, all in all a fairly good suggestion but make sure that the vehicle and engine match the users typical mileage and the roads that they use. Low co2 figures means a smaller engine which will easily be out performed on a motorway by a bigger one. The small eco engines are better suited to drivers who cover more urban mileage.
Point 2, Educate your drivers. Do you have a drivers handbook with your companies expectations explained, a simple step to ensure that your staff know what is expected of them when operating a vehicle. Another point here would be to ask if the driver has the knowledge to make these checks, a proper vehicle handover should run through all of the required maintenance and where and how do do it.
Point 3, make sure your drivers know how to drive efficiently. All driver training skills courses will cover how to get the best out of your engine without killing it, and you will see quite surprising increases in fuel efficiency with just a few simple tips.
Point 5, optimise journeys. What can you do to reduce mileage? Having good records of where to and why the journey took place will help you to build up a picture of whether your employees are optimising their routes and daily activities effectively, why make two trips in a week if the job can be done in one. Looking through past journeys will help to create a pattern which can be analysed for future benefits.
Point 7, remove old vehicles. If possible keep your fleet up to date, developments in the automotive industry come thick and fast and there is always a benefit in performance to be gained that could offset the initial outlay, also the government are never far behind in what they expect form emission levels too.
Point 8, have you considered alternate fuels? This links in with point 1, does the vehicle, engine and fuel best match the drivers needs? There are many manufacturers who are producing fully electric vans that are ideal vehicles for local trips, or local contractors, these vehicle have a range on average of 100 miles, if this covers your daily needs then it makes an ideal low emission swap.
Point 10, back to maintenance. High mileage vehicles deserve extra care as they will be the ones using the most fuel, if they are as efficient as possible it will have a positive affect on your overall fuel bill.
One final point. As part of the regular checks you undoubtedly make on your drivers performance, check to see how their figures compare to their colleagues and the suggested performance figures in the vehicles handbook. I have seen incentives such as monthly awards work wonders in changing drivers attitudes towards their driving styles and traits. People are naturally competitive and will always make an effort when there is kudos (and a prize) at stake.