There are multiple ways to reduce your fleet’s carbon footprint including introducing green practices, alternative fuel vehicles, tracking and telematics.
The first step toward a more sustainable fleet is to initiate some green practices with your drivers and employees. When you gain more control over and insight to how your vehicles are dispatched, driven and maintained you can make more sustainable choices.
Driver education is also important. Educating your drivers about the most environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient driving techniques will influence your fleet a great deal. It may seem like a given but something as simple as when and when not to use cruise control and when to shut off your vehicle or let it idle can have a huge impact on fuel consumption and emissions.
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.17 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer. In addition, aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Alternative Fuel Options
Another method for reducing vehicle emissions and helping work toward your company’s sustainability goals is to consider alternative fuels. Alternative fuels help decrease your fleet’s reliance on fossil fuels, reduce vehicle emissions, and offer more predictable pricing as well.
Some common alternative fuels include bio diesel, electric, hybrid-electric, natural gas, propane, and hydrogen fuel cell. In addition to leaving a smaller environmental footprint, these alternative fuel solutions can come at lower costs too.
If your fleet requires a mix of multiple types of vehicles - a sustainable fuel plan may require multiple types of fuel or fuel-alternatives. Hybrid-electric or all electric vehicles may work for your local outside sales force while they may not yet be a realistic alternative for 4x4 trucks or cars that travel long distances in one day that may not be near charging stations.
Tracking and Telematics
Finally, tracking and telematics can have a substantial impact on the sustainability of a fleet. Telematics help monitor things like fuel consumption, driving behaviors, engine issues, fuel costs, driver idling time, speeding, motor oil life, and tire inflation. According to an estimate by The Department of Transportation, 5 million gallons of fuel per day are wasted due to low tire pressure.
This centralized information also allows you to increase compliance with safety policies, improve driver safety and reduce risk, and improve sustainability initiatives. Fuel cards can also provide savings as well as reports used to stop unnecessary costs and monitor vehicle performance. Advanced GPS programs that integrate with your fuel cards can provide real-time vehicle location and send a mobile alert with the nearest gas station with the lowest cost.
Driver feedback devices can help you drive more efficiently. A recent study suggests that they can help the average driver improve fuel economy by about 3% and that those using them to save fuel can improve gas mileage by about 10%. That's like saving about $0.07 to $0.24 per gallon.
Consider Your Engine Size
For one company, changing from a Ford Taurus to a Ford Fusion 4 cylinder increased their fuel economy from 18 mpg to 26 mpg. Small changes, when applied to an entire fleet and over a year’s time, can make a big difference. This is mainly a result of displacement. Displacement is how much air your engine can consume in one revolution. The volume of air drawn in is typically described in liters. For example, a car may have a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine while a full-size truck may draw in 4.6 liters of air. The more air an engine can consume the more fuel it can consume.
So what about the cylinders? Well, each cylinder houses a piston. The more pistons pumping the more power that can be generated in that amount of time. This is why V6 engines have been American automakers’ top choice. They are powerful, with a compact design. 4-cylinder engines used to be assumed to be slow, weak, unbalanced. However, with the rise in gas prices, American automakers began to come around when Japanese automakers installed highly-efficient 4-cylinder engines in their vehicles which quickly outsold American models. While power and performance is great, 4-cylinder engines can provide fuel efficiency and lower emissions that a V-6 just can’t compete with.
You Don’t Have to Manage This Alone
A fleet management company can examine your fleet needs and offer comprehensive telematics solutions to help you pinpoint the exact usage of your vehicles. They can provide reports on how to maximize routes, compare drivers, identify poor fuel consumption and make sure you have the right vehicles for job. Plus, this kind of tracking is scalable as your fleet grows.