By Craig Thomas on Jun 12, 2019
Luckily, there are numerous ways to improve fuel consumption – and, as a result, lower harmful emissions from fleet vehicles.
It’s all in the planning
Drivers should plan every journey before setting off. It sounds like common sense, but how often have you set off, hit traffic, decided to take a different route, only to find that you’re even more stuck? We’ve all done it.
But if you take the time to check traffic reports before setting off, you’re forearmed with the knowledge of which routes to avoid.
So plan your route, think about the time you’re travelling, whether and where you’ll need to stop for fuel, build in a contingency for comfort breaks and unforeseen delays, and allow plenty of time for the journey.
If you do all these things, you won’t be tempted to go faster or drive in a less-than-smooth manner, both of which use more fuel.
We’re not saying that all those roadside caffs have made your drivers pile on the pounds – that would be plain rude – but your fleet vehicles can probably shed some weight.
Do your drivers need all those samples? Are your fleet vehicles’ boots full of unnecessary equipment and clutter? How about personal stuff in company cars? Roof racks, bike racks and sets of golf clubs could all be costing your company money in additional fuel costs.
If you want to be even more careful with weight, and it suits the running of your vehicles, you could even keep the fuel tanks half full, as that extra half-tank adds more weight.
Take, for example, a Ford Focus with its 55-litre tank. With petrol weighing 0.74kg a litre, the difference between a full tank and a half-full one is just over 20kg. Test show that for every 45kg taken off the weight of a vehicle, fuel efficiency improves by 1-2%. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Before every trip, ensure that drivers check all the aspects of the vehicle that could lead to its inefficient running.
Tyres play a major part in ensuring a vehicle is as economical as it can be, so get pressures checked at least every week. Tyres lose about one psi per month and one psi for every 10 degree drop in temperature, so they need to be regularly monitored to maintain the recommended pressure.
Vehicles also need to be filled with the correct type and right amount of oil. And modern vehicles don’t need to warm up, either, so ensure that drivers only start the engines when they’re ready to go.
Choose the right gear
Gear selection is one of the key techniques to saving fuel.
Modern cars often have a gear indicator, which suggests to the driver when the optimal time is to change gear, which is a great help in driving efficiently.
But instead of focusing on the little display in the instrument binnacle – and taking their eyes off the road – drivers can develop their efficiency skills by either ensuring that they don’t exceed 2,000rpm (a good general guide) or getting a feel for their vehicle to achieve the optimum balance between performance and efficiency.
Test the temperature
The heating and air conditioning system of a vehicle is another drain on a vehicle’s efficient running, so it’s important to impress upon fleet drivers the need to monitor the temperature in their cabin – and not to excessively or unnecessarily overheat or overcool their driving environment.
Some studies have found that using the air con on a hot day in urban driving can increase fuel consumption as much as 10%. So at low speeds, perhaps look at opening the window instead of switching on the air con. However, bear in mind that at higher speeds, the wind resistance of open windows and sunroofs can increase fuel consumption, so then air con is a better option.
In winter, get drivers to wear an extra layer of clothing, rather than turning up the temperature. It sounds like small thing, but all the small things add up.
If fleet drivers adopt all of these good habits, you should see your fleet’s fuel bills start to fall.
Or at least stay static, as the cost of fuel rises over the coming months.