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Alternative fuels for fleet vehicles: Key advantages

The transport sector generates roughly 25% of all energy-oriented greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recognising the urgency to shrink their carbon footprints in transportation, people and businesses alike are increasingly turning to alternative fuels.

New regulations are influencing the switch to greener fuels too. The European Commission, for instance, aims to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. In the UK, government incentives like tax cuts and purchasing grants drive demand for low-emission vehicles. As a fleet operator, you may be wondering how your fleet can play a positive role in reducing the sector’s GHGs. You may also be wondering whether alternative fuels can result in other advantages.

How can alternative fuels benefit fleets?

If you’re thinking of switching fuel sources, alternative fuels for fleet vehicles can offer a range of business benefits:

  • Cost savings – Alternative fuels can be less expensive than petrol and diesel.
  • Improved company image – Many companies are publicising their use of alternative fuels in vehicle signage to promote their image.
  • Driver hiring and retention – The next generation of professional drivers is interested in sustainability, and fleets that run on alternative fuels may attract these younger drivers.
  • Environmental responsibility – Alternative fuels produce fewer emissions than fossil fuels, contributing to greater sustainability.
  • Government incentives – Many governments offer incentives and subsidies for the use of alternative fuels, which can help offset any upfront cost in transitioning to a new fuel.
  • Increased fuel security – Alternative fuels are often domestically produced, which can help reduce reliance on foreign sources of fuel.
  • Enhanced vehicle performance – Some alternative fuels, such as electricity, can provide improved acceleration and torque compared to petrol or diesel, which can be beneficial for some types of vehicles and driving conditions.

Along with weighing the benefits against your fleet’s specific needs and goals, you’ll want to check the availability and cost of alternatives in whichever region(s) you do business. The type of vehicles you manage would also influence your decision-making process. Then there’s the type of fuel itself.

Which alternative fuels should you consider?

Electricity is currently the most popular alternative fuel for vehicle fleets. Fleets are adopting more electric vehicles (EVs), especially for shorter routes and in urban areas where charging stations are readily available. Despite driving range challenges, EVs can generate savings for commercial fleets. Fleets are also turning to EVs to reduce their carbon footprint.

Fleets that can’t immediately invest in EVs may find non-electric alternatives more viable in the shorter term. As FleetOwner points out, non-electric alternative fuels are essential to quick wins in reducing fleet carbon emissions—today’s internal combustion engine (ICE) can run on them (or be converted for them). Alternative fuels can help stretch the lifetime value of ICE vehicles while lowering a company’s CO2 emissions.

So, what are some non-electric options? Common alternative fuels for fleet vehicles include:

  • Biodiesel and renewable diesel – Such fuels consist of organic waste like vegetable oil. Renewable fuels are used for blending only, and commercial transportation fleets often rely on them.
  • Natural gas – Compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) are both widely used as alternative fuels for fleets, particularly for heavy-duty trucks and buses. Natural gas produces less carbon emissions than diesel.

Where sustainable mobility and fleet efficiency meet

Around 50% of European drivers say they’re considering purchasing a fully electric vehicle. And as noted above, many companies are introducing EVs into their fleets for their financial and ecological benefits.

Electricity as an alternative fuel for your fleet

If sustain­ab­ility is one of your organ­isation’s core values, being an early adopter of commercial EVs makes good business sense. You’ll have more vehicle data to draw on, which can be used to increase your fleet’s operational efficiency. And your maintenance costs could be far less, since EVs have fewer parts and maintenance needs than ICE vehicles.

Wondering where to go from here? A telematics provider like Webfleet can help you get the most value out of fleet electrification. Our EV fleet management software makes it simple to monitor battery health in real time while optimising your routes and charging times.

Not sure if you’re ready for EVs yet? We can help you assess whether it’s the right time for your fleet to go electric. Feel free to request a callback—we’re always glad to lend a hand. We’ll see that you properly benchmark your current CO2 emissions, putting you on the right path to a smaller footprint.

We’re driven to build a more sustainable future by helping customers lower their carbon emissions. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Justdiggit for our Green Your Fleet initiative. Through this program, Webfleet customers are helping regreen dry lands in Africa while empowering local farmers and offsetting their carbon emissions. See how much your fleet can contribute by participating in Green Your Fleet.

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James Dewhurst
James Dewhurst has more than a decade’s worth of experience in connected vehicles and telematics data. Over this time, James has witnessed the established rollout of advanced telematics solutions to the industry (Telematics 2.0), having been involved in key fleet contracts for Webfleet. Now, as we enter a new era of telematics (Telematics 3.0, where connected and autonomous vehicles will come into play), James leads the Webfleet UKI sales team from Bridgestone Mobility Solutions in the delivery of data-driven insights that will make customers' fleets more sustainable and highly productive for our dynamic world.

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