3 key areas to improve fleet fuel economy
Source: FleetAnswers Outside of vehicle acquisition, fuel expenses are one of the largest parts of your fleet's overall budget, taking up as much as 30 percent of a fleet's cost. If you are looking to lower that cost, you can take a few measures to improve your fleet's fuel economy. Each of these three changes can make a small impact, and those small changes add up to big improvements with time.
Focus on Tires
Tires impact fuel economy tremendously, so improving fuel economy starts with a closer look at your tires. Tires, when they are not the proper tire for the vehicle or when they are not inflated to the proper presser, can increase rolling resistance. Increased rolling resistance increases the amount of fuel consumption.
To ensure your tires are not hurting your fuel use, first make sure that you are using the right tire for the type of driving the fleet is doing. For example, the high treads needed for safety in winter are going to increase your fuel use, so they should not be used for summer driving. Tires that are wider than necessary for the vehicle increase air resistance, and therefore fuel economy.
If you are certain that you have the right type of tire, consider the condition of the tire. Tires need to be properly inflated to the recommended pressure, and they need to be inspected for signs of wear. Heavily worn tires increase the amount of fuel consumed, and poorly inflated tires have increased contact area, and thus more rolling resistance and higher fuel consumption.
Add Aerodynamic Equipment to Vehicle
Some vehicles are not very aerodynamic in their basic design. Adding aerodynamic equipment and add ons will reduce fuel use and improve fuel economy. If the vehicle drives long distances, this can add up quickly.
Aerodynamic equipment is vehicle specific. For semi-trucks, air deflectors, side trim panels and under-bumper spoilers can all help. Pickup trucks can benefit from a tonneau cover, which can reduce drag by 2 to 7 percent according to Edmunds. This addition alone can improve fuel economy by 0.1 to 0.3 mpg. Passenger sedans and other smaller vehicles may benefit from a rear spoiler, depending on the car's design, a bug shield or "belly pans," which are covers on the underside of the vehicle.
In addition, removing certain items from the vehicle can help. Roof racks, for example, can increase drag and lower fuel economy. If they are not needed and can be removed, remove them.
Monitor and Improve Driver Behavior
Finally, if you are serious about controlling fuel economy across your fleet, consider closer monitoring and improvement of your driver behavior. First, install systems that will provide data about how drivers are behaving in your vehicles, including data about idle times and speed. Then, determine if your drivers are not following fuel-efficient driving practices.
If you notice a problem, consider taking a gentle approach through driver training. It's possible the drivers are not fully aware of the impact their behaviors have on your overall financial success. Encourage better practices to encourage better fuel economy.
Why is this important? Consider idle time as an example. Each year, over 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the United States due to excessive and unneeded idling time, according to the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition. If your fleet is using even a portion of that, you are losing money.
Fuel economy is the one area where you have some measure of control over the costs of running your fleet. With these three areas of focus, you can improve fuel economy and help your fleet run as efficiently as possible.
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