Improve your fleet’s fuel economy in four steps

Fuel PricesImproving your fleet’s fuel economy is an excellent way of reducing business expenditures and maximising profits.

Implementing one or two of these tips might only save each of your cars or commercial vehicles pennies per mile – but the savings really begin to stack up if you have lots of vehicles travelling long miles every day.

Some of these relate to the health of your transmission but we’ve also included some more general advice on maintaining an efficient fleet.

Check engine AND transmission oil

Regularly changing engine and transmission oil is essential to achieving good fuel economy. It is an area of vehicle maintenance that has been overlooked by some fleet operators in the past. And although the situation is better today, some fleet managers still don’t attach the same importance to transmission oil as they do to engine oil.

It’s critical that use an oil which is the correct specification for your vehicle. In transmissions, if you don’t use an oil with the correct viscosity then parts will not move as they should and you could lose some efficiency.

Failing to change oil when you should can also mean that vehicle components get damaged – meaning higher maintenance costs over a vehicles lifespan.

Check the tyre pressure

Running tyres which are slightly under or over inflated can mean 10% of unnecessary fuel consumption

Tyre pressure has a direct impact on fuel consumption. Running tyres which are slightly under or over inflated can mean 10% of unnecessary fuel consumption

Maintaining good tyre pressure can be done in different ways. At the very least you should be checking tyre pressures every month. However, in an ideal world you should be altering the tyre pressure for each individual journey depending on the load-weight and the terrain.

Transmission maintenance

In some cases, transmission maintenance activities from a specialist like Ecodrive can improve fuel efficiency. However, this is only likely to be worth it for fleets which cover long distances under heavy transmission stress – like inner city bus fleets. If you operate a fleet in this kind of industry then transmission maintenance could be financially worthwhile.

Upgrade to a new more efficient model

This might sound like quite a drastic step considering the overheads involved, but in some cases upgrading your vehicle fleet can yield savings which outweigh the initial costs in the long run – especially if your vehicles are already old.

Working out if it’s worth upgrading requires quite a comprehensive cost benefit analysis. A good place to start is working out the payback time of a newer model.

Payback time (years) = cost of new model (£) / annual fuel saving costs (£)

This calculation is quite complicated because although fuel prices are quite cheap at the moment (meaning a longer payback time) they can rise and fall in quite significant amounts.

In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal you also need to be wary that the reported efficiency measurements might not be the same as you will get on the road.

Initial post-Volkswagen investigations in Germany and England show that reported figures are quite different from results under real-world driving conditions.

There are often other external costs and benefits to consider. If you operate in a service industry for example then you might look more professional if you have newer vehicles. It is often difficult to cost these factors up but you should have some idea how much it will be worth to your particular business.

If you are a fleet manager and you have any further technical questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our workshop. Call: 01204 701 812.