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6 efficient ways to reduce fleet costs

Common questions asked by fleet managers are: How can we rein in our fuel spending? and Since we can’t control prices at the pump, what can we do to operate more efficiently? How to reduce fuel costs?

Lowering fuel costs and improving fleet efficiency go hand in hand. Actions aimed at reducing fuel spending will eliminate inefficiencies and vice-versa. This article outlines four ways to reduce fleet costs while increasing your fleet’s overall efficiency.

It’s worth pointing out that cutting costs and boosting efficiency does not mean taking shortcuts on safety. So, every action discussed below also highlights improvements in safety.

6 actions to reduce fleet costs and increase fleet efficiency

1. Monitor driver behaviour

Sloppy driving habits can lead to excessive fuel consumption. Speeding, needless idling and inappropriate gear shifting, for example, will contribute to fuel waste. Monitoring driver behaviour is therefore essential to reducing fleet costs.

With an integrated fleet management system, fleet managers can assess patterns in driver behaviour and support actionable feedback to drivers. The OptiDrive 360 feature in Webfleet provides real-time insights on speed, coasting and other driving habits that affect fuel use. It also sends predictive alerts to drivers on the road, empowering them to immediately correct inefficient or unsafe behaviours.

Does your fleet have a driver safety programme in place? Well-trained drivers are your frontline against accidents that can lead to the loss of vehicles or lives. A strong culture of safety reduces the odds of incidents, not to mention vehicle downtime, which only hamper a fleet’s efficiency. Safety brings the extra benefit of lower insurance premiums, adding to your cost savings.

2. Optimise your route planning

Higher mileage equals higher fuel costs. Productive fleets can’t avoid racking up mileage, of course. But driving unnecessary kilometres will burn through fuel. As will sitting in traffic. Unforeseen construction, heavy traffic and weather can all play a role in higher fuel use, due to idling or unexpected detours.

Fleet managers are turning to digital tools to sidestep these issues. A complete telematics and software solution makes it easy to analyse live traffic and weather data. These insights help fleet managers provide better on-road support for drivers, who can then bypass traffic jams or unsafe driving conditions. 

From the Webfleet dashboard, you can readily figure out whether your trucks meet height and weight restrictions for certain roads. Keeping your trucks on appropriate roads translates into preventing the costly consequences of bridge strikes, safety incidents and delays. Plus, you save money on fuel by not having to backtrack or take long detours.  

Optimised route planning enables you to deliver more, faster. Using fleet management software, fleet managers can provide reliable ETAs to customers, leading to greater satisfaction and stronger business relationships.

Reduce fleet costs with optimised route planning

3. Practise predictive tyre management

Roughly 20% of commercial tyres on the road are significantly underinflated. Slow leaks and improper tyre pressure result in a 2.5% increase in fuel use. Regularly checking tyre conditions is an effective way to save money on fuel and reduce fleet costs. Predictive tyre management is also a booster for fleet efficiency. By keeping tyres in optimal condition, you prevent unexpected repairs and vehicle downtime. Well-maintained tyres are about safety too—blowouts and roadside breakdowns jeopardise truck and car drivers alike.

The question is, how can you determine how every single tyre in your fleet is performing? Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) takes out the guesswork with real-time checks on tyre pressure and temperature. TPMS notifies you about abnormal pressure or temperature levels, enabling you to address issues before they lead to downtime or safety issues.  

Choosing the right tyres can also help you reduce fleet costs. Rolling resistance and mileage performance influence your fuel costs. Using fleet management software, you can track data related to your vehicle routes and stops. This data can then be analysed to help you decide whether you’re using the most suitable tyres for any given vehicle in your fleet.

 4. Schedule in preventative maintenance

Properly maintained vehicles last longer and run better. When kept in top shape, vehicles use fuel far more efficiently. Maintenance issues that go unnoticed or put off will eventually result in breakdowns and potentially higher repair costs. By regularly scheduling preventative maintenance, you put a stop to productivity losses. You also beef up your bottom line with savings on fuel and repairs.

Providing excellent customer service requires on-time delivery. Downtime from incidents or unplanned repairs can cause service delays, alongside penalties from broken SLAs. Roadworthy trucks are the backbone of a fleet’s profitability.

Cared-for vehicles help protect all drivers from safety incidents. Should an accident prove to be caused by a poorly maintained vehicle, your business would be liable for any material damage or loss of life. Fleet management software simplifies preventative maintenance scheduling. Your business benefits by contributing to safer roads while avoiding fines and reputational damage.

Schedule in preventative maintenance to reduce fleet costs

5. Implement fuel-efficient driving practices

Drivers are one of the biggest fuel economy influencers and by improving their performance, meaningful results can be achieved. One aspect that is often overlooked is driver training. The key is to educate your drivers on aspects like:

  • Fuel usage when idling 
  • Speeding 
  • Harsh cornering and braking 
  • Not lifting off the accelerator when nearing junctions
  • Shifting gear late in the rev range

Drivers can also be empowered to improve with performance information fed to them via their in-vehicle navigation devices. Predictive advice, using vehicle and map data, tells them when to take their foot off the accelerator, when to shift gears and what their optimum speed should be.

Fleet management solutions can draw upon a wide range of insights, taking live information directly from vehicles to profile individual drivers or entire fleets. This actionable information is then relayed to fleet managers who can structure driver training programmes.

This combination enables drivers to improve themselves while providing fleet managers with valuable data insights to develop customised driver training programs. Ultimately, creating a more fuel-efficient and safer fleet.

Charging electric vehicle

6. Recharge your electric vehicles for cheaper

Charge point price variations can make a huge difference to fleet running costs. Saving just a few per kWh, across multiple vehicles that make long or frequent journeys can add up to thousands of pounds a year.

Prices across public rapid charging networks can also vary considerably. Third-party apps can help to direct drivers away from expensive recharging options by signposting the best deals in their area. With fleet management software, the location of charging points can also be pinpointed via drivers’ in-car devices, helping to cut unnecessary mileage. The convenience of pinpointing charging stations will allow the driver to effectively plan routes, in turn, increasing workload efficiency.

Another consideration is when to charge your vehicle. Some drivers of electric vehicles tend to charge during peak hours upon returning to the depot. To save costs, avoid charging during the day and switch to an off-peak tariff to charge vehicles overnight whenever possible. The difference between peak and off-peak charging times can adversely affect your business’s energy consumption and is not economically viable. Opting for smart charging of electric vehicles overnight can save costs and provide an effective charging solution.

Finally, it’s crucial to know that using a rapid charger to charge your electric vehicle beyond 80% can significantly reduce the charging speed. To make the most of your charging time it’s important to be aware of your electric vehicle’s charging curve. If your driver is waiting to hit 100% charge, this could have a direct impact on your operational efficiency.

Adopting an electric vehicle fleet requires you to change your perception on how you would run a combustion vehicle fleet. Knowing, where and how to charge will be the key to saving costs for your business in the long run.

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Reduce fleet costs with Webfleet

Thinking of switching from spreadsheets to a fleet management platform to reduce fleet costs? There are several variables to consider, including fleet size and vehicle type. Use our Solutions Advisor to see which combination of Webfleet tools is right for your unique fleet management needs.  

Wondering how much an integrated platform can shave off your budget sheet? Get an answer in seconds with our Savings Calculator. 

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