AFRs mean companies are not concerned over fuel costsMany companies reimburse drivers for business mileage at Government set Advisory Fuel Rates and one survey respondent commented: "As we pay AFR rates to drivers there is no real incentive as a business to worry too much about fuel costs."Companies that pay AFRs still need to drive down mileage figures - an area which many may be over-looking given that only 10% of respondents stop drivers 'rounding' mileage claims. Worryingly, more than a fifth of drivers admitted to exaggerating mileage claims in a survey last year by GlobalExpense and the HMRC is known to be clamping down on mileage fraud.The Miles Consultancy claims that companies with a mileage capture system can expect to reduce their mileage by a quarter.If the company sticks with AFRs, savings could be achieved by downsizing engines or an alternative approach could be taken - Astrazeneca, for instance, has only one fuel rate for reimburse-ment which encourages drivers to choose a fuel-efficient car. There is corporate social responsibility (CSR) to consider too. David Graham, fleet manager at Eon, believes that fuel efficiency is part of CSR and that all drivers should be engaged in the company's sustainability programme. premium fuel, as well as where they are refuelling. "Look for outlets that are consistently cheaper in your area," Peter Bonney, fleet controller at The Salvation Army, advises.Many respondents discourage or ban drivers from filling up at expensive motorway service stations. Jeff Addley, fleet and stores manager at HVMS, sends drivers the national average price for unleaded and diesel and asks them to keep within 4ppl where possible. Drivers are allowed to refuel at motorway services in exceptional circumstances but a 15-litre limit is imposed. Half of survey respondents encourage drivers to fill up at supermarket forecourts, as these tend to be the cheapest locations. Inspired Gaming Group has shown it is possible to change driver behav-iour, with 95% of its fuel consistently purchased at supermarkets. But this approach can backfire if drivers travel miles out of their way to refuel. "We tell drivers not to drive 20 miles to save 20 pence," Tony Witterick, fleet administrator at Coast and Country Housing, says. "We advise drivers to refuel en route and on a weekly basis we inform them which is the cheapest place to refuel in their area."Witterick has also negotiated a discount with his fuel card provider, which is another advantage of using certain types of fuel card. Brendan Gott, group operations manager at Rigby Taylor, which has 62 company cars, says his fuel card provider guarantees to be competitive and has one price nationally. "Our previous fuel card provider kept putting their prices up," Gott says. "We then switched to using credit cards but we were not able to get the mpg figures or the data we needed. With our new provider we have that and they are proving to be cost-competitive."However, not all survey respondents have a positive view of fuel cards. One said: "Too many fuel cards restrict the choice of outlet so more multi-brand cards would avoid wasted mileage to reach a particular brand."20 September 2011 fleetnews.co.uk/SMEWhat actions do you take to reduce fuel spend? (top 14 answers)Use fuel cards 70%Increase number of lower CO2/high mpg vehicles on the fleet 69%Encourage drivers to fill up at supermarket forecourts 51%Check tyre pressures 41%Issue drivers with tips on driving more fuel efficiently 37%Check that drivers are not using super unleaded petrol 37%Encourage tele/video conferencing 34%Encourage car sharing 33%Route planning 30%Encourage the use of public transport 24%Use speed limiters 22%Eco driver training 20%Use telematics 20%Use a mileage capture system 20%Top 10 fleet-recommended actions to reduce fuel spendIncrease number of lower CO2/high mpg vehicles on the fleet 65%Use fuel cards 56%Encourage drivers to fill up at supermarket forecourts 48%Check tyre pressures 32%Encourage car sharing 31%Encourage tele/video conferencing 28%Check that drivers are not using super unleaded petrol 28%Route planning 25%Issue drivers with tips on driving more fuel efficiently 23%Encourage the use of public transport 22%Top four single-most effective actions to reduce fuel costs, according to fleets29%Increase the number of lower CO2/high mpg vehicles on the fleet 21%Encourage drivers to fill up at supermarket forecourts14%Use fuel cards10%Use telematicsFUEL REPORTNew tools at Fleet News onlineFleet News is constantly looking for ways to improve its website and develop tools that help companies run effective and efficient fleets.We are pleased to bring three new tools in collaboration with comcar:To test the new tools go to www.fleetnews.co.uk/costs/n Carbon footprint calculator n Van tax calculator n Van chooser tool
fleetnews.co.uk/SME September 2011 21His view echoes a general theme that fuel cards, while used by the majority of fleets (70%), aren't seen as the optimum way to cut fuel usage - just 14% say it is the single-most effective way to reduce costs.Another popular measure is checking tyre pressures. Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption by 4% and last half as long as correctly inflated tyres, according to the Campaign for Better Tyres. Other tactics tackle rental vehicles, ensuring they are returned with the correct level of fuel to avoid a recharge. Similarly, a month before a vehicle goes off-fleet, advise drivers not to leave a full tank of fuel in it. Driver communication and education is key. Issuing drivers with tips on driving more efficiently is a step taken by 37% of survey respondents. A third of companies also encourage car sharing, 34% encourage tel/video conferencing and 24% promote the use of public transport. Next - the more difficult steps The steps which companies are not taking, arguably, fall into the 'harder to do' category - either because they require financial investment or the 1. Vehicles More than half of CCW's fleet of 57 vehicles are now sub-100g/km of CO2."We evaluated the make and model of our fleet in 2009 when it was time to procure new vehicles," says Roberts. "We decided we could do a lot better than 145-150g/km and procured Ford Fiesta Econetics, which are sub-100g/km. The vehicles are high mpg and we save on running costs as well as road tax."All new vehicles are also fitted with Michelin Energy Saving Tyres with expected fuel savings of 2-3%. "We benchmarked the price against the current price of tyres and there was about a £15-20 difference," Roberts says. "But the energy-saving tyres are longer lasting and we will save on the fuel bill."CCW now runs its four vans and 32 4X4s on a 50% biodiesel blend. Roberts says the switch to biodiesel was for environmental reasons but there are fuel savings too - about 4 pence a litre. Each office has to achieve a 70% vehicle utilisation and this has enabled CCW to reduce its fleet from 73 vehicles to 57 over the past two years. 2. DriversRoberts stresses the importance of filling up at cheap supermarket forecourts. and has negotiated a rebate with his fuel card supplier giving additional savings if drivers use supermarket forecourts. All drivers also receive eco driver training, with the driver achieving the highest mpg being awarded £100. company believes they may provoke a negative reaction from drivers. Only a fifth of survey respondents conduct eco driver training even though companies can demonstrate improvements in mpg. The Energy Saving Trust says that after its 50-minute Smarter Driving course drivers will immediately improve their fuel economy by 15%, with a realistic long-term goal being a 7% improvement.However, it's worth bearing in mind that companies which pay the fixed Advisory Fuel Rate will not benefit from any efficiency gains achieved by their drivers (see panel p22).One fleet manager who wanted to remain anonymous said he would like to introduce driver training to save on fuel, as well as for environmental and health and safety reasons, but it would "require a change in approach from the company". "It is useless having data on poor mpg if we don't then invest in driver training," he says. "We need to assess drivers and see who needs some TLC. Drivers will benefit from training because it will flow into their personal driving. Case study: The Countryside Council for WalesRoberts is considering offering annual rewards to incentivise drivers to drive in an eco-friendly manner, using monthly fuel reports for benchmarking. He anticipates a 10% saving on the fuel bill with an 18-24 months payback period. Implementing the programme has been "effortless" as CCW opted for a managed solution which means that the provider arranges the bookings with staff. 3. Journeys CCW has set a target of reducing mileage by 15% this financial year and has developed an in-house mileage capture system for vehicle bookings. Transport managers at each of CCW's offices are responsible for completing mileages using the system as Roberts found that drivers were submitting inaccurate mileages with their fuel cards.CCW has a 'travel decision tree' or 'travel hierarchy' in place which means that each driver must consider whether a journey is necessary or whether a tele- or video-conference could take place instead. If it is necessary to travel they must consider public transport and, if that is not viable, the possibility of car sharing. Staff are issued with a 'safe journey planner' via the intranet site which advises them to plan trips in advance and to take the shortest route, as well as health and safety aspects such as taking a rest break every two hours. However, a telematics trial was rejected on the ground that it was "big brother".The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) reduced the volume of fuel it bought by 9% this year. "Our fuel bill fluctuates because of the price of fuel," explains Gareth Roberts, CCW's fleet manager, "but litreage is less this year so there is a saving there."CCW is a good example of a fleet where all three areas of fuel management are addressed: vehicles, drivers and journeys.