Over the last 10 years a range of cleaner vehicle technologies and alternative fuels has become available, giving fleet managers a number of options for improving the environmental performance of their vehicles, whilst also lowering company vehicle fleet running costs.
However, there is no single solution to environmental improvements that can be applied to all fleets. Choices need to take account of a number of factors; in particular the individual operational requirements of the fleet and local environmental factors, such as whether there are air quality problems in the areas that vehicles operate.
Operating a “greener” fleet
A “green” fleet is one that does its best to mitigate the effect that it has on the environment in order to minimise fuel consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other exhaust pollutants, and reduce the overall need for travel.
Some examples of how this can be achieved are:
- Maximise the efficiency of its existing vehicle fleet
- Reduce overall fleet usage where possible, for example through a workplace travel plan
- Review the choice of alternative-fuel and hybrid technologies
It is important to frequently review your choice of cleaner fuels and technology as the motor industry reacts to government policies designed to drive down CO2 emissions on new cars. However, the full benefits of undertaking a review will not be realised unless you are already implementing the first two steps of our suggested “green” fleet process. Indeed, this process can be regarded as a continuous cycle, with vehicle and fuel specification, fleet management and travel demand management all working together to deliver long term environmental benefits.
Why implement a “green” company car fleet policy?
There are a number of reasons why your business might want to implement “green” fleet management principles for its company vehicle fleet; some motives could be based on purely commercial considerations, while others might focus on wider environmental, safety or general transportation issues.
Here are a few examples that we have come across consultations with fleets on best practice:
- To save money, by making more efficient use of company transport
- As a strategic business tool, where efficiencies in the fleet can be found to meet wider company needs
- As part of a travel plan, where a business intends to reduce the amount of road-use it generates, often because of planning needs or parking and traffic problems
- As part of a road safety management policy, to take full advantage of the cost savings and other benefits that are derived from a safer fleet
- To comply with a corporate environmental policy, for example under ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Standard) or for implementation of an environmental management system (EMS), or because the organisation wishes to adopt a responsible, environmentally sound vehicle fleet stance
Many of the aspects which make up greener fleet management is simply down to good business practice, and — as such — can easily be justified on its own commercial merits; improving fleet performance on purely commercial or cost efficiency grounds almost always involves better fuel economy and lower emissions, so any environmental gains come as an incidental boon. In many cases environmental issues can form the ideal stimulus to review your fleet policy and examine the improvements that can be made. For many company vehicle fleets, the financial benefits to be made should almost certainly outweigh any implementation costs within a single replacement cycle – typically 24–36 months.
Tips for managing your company vehicle fleet
The following tips should also help you manage your company car fleet more in a more fuel-efficient manner:
- Promote fuel-efficient cars via a user-chooser fleet list which actively promote cars with low CO2 emissions and high fuel efficiency
- In conjunction with your Personnel Department, actively promote cars with low CO2 emission levels, which will reduce employee Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax liabilities
- Accurately record and run detailed analysis on business mileage patterns, to allow you to manage the company car fleet and grey fleet better, identifying inefficiencies where present
- Accurately record and run detailed analysis fleet fuel consumption profiles to identify areas of high and low fuel efficiency for targeted action
- Evaluate the use of alternative-fuel and hybrid cars to see where they may offer savings on the cost of running your company vehicle fleet
- Provide driver league tables to show how employees are performing against others
- Ensure that vehicles are properly serviced and kept roadworthy; poorly maintained vehicles are not only dangerous, but have higher fuel consumption and emission levels
- Provide journey planning advice through access to websites that give street maps and route planners, or through a transport administrator who coordinates travel for employees
- Provide guidance on transport alternatives; make it easy for employees to evaluate and access alternatives to car travel by encouraging public transport and providing journey planning assistance
- Ensure travel remuneration policies are environmentally sensitive; do not have business mileage reimbursement rates that encourage drivers to cover excessive, unnecessary miles
- Consider improving core business activity efficiency; it may be more cost effective to consider telesales or e-commerce instead of field sales teams out on the road