In the first of a new panel discussion, we ask our experts their views on how telematics have shaped and driven change within the fleet management profession, and why reluctance to use fleet technology still exists within some organisations
As the UK’s leading fleet management and funding specialist, Lex Autolease is uniquely placed to provide key insight on the critical issues you face as a fleet decision-maker. With cost control a continual priority on the business agenda and increasing pressure to reduce harmful vehicle emissions, we look at how you can make your fleet more financially and environmentally efficient.
One of the most pressing issues facing fleet managers, vehicle owners and drivers today is the need to reduce emissions. This was a key target of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, in which lower tax bands for ultra-low emission vehicles and a new zero emission range based scale for the very cleanest cars (to be introduced in 2020) along with further investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure were announced.
For fleet managers, reducing emissions is not just about creating a cleaner, greener environment for tomorrow, it’s about reducing vehicle running costs and making the fleet run more efficiently today.
With an eye on the incentives on offer through reduced emissions and the potential penalties ahead for those that fail to act, what can you do now and in the near future to make your fleet as efficient as possible?
Immediate efficiency focus
One of the highest costs of running a fleet and one where emissions are most relevant is fuel. Inefficient fuel use can have a serious impact on a business’ bottom line and can ramp up levels of CO2 emissions.
While we have seen a freeze on fuel duty for seven consecutive years, rising oil prices and the depreciation of Sterling has meant prices at the pump have continued to increase. Therefore, the most straightforward way of tackling fuel costs in the short-term is to ensure drivers are filling up at the cheapest fuel outlets and driving efficiently.
Driver behaviour has a significant impact on fuel efficiency and educating and encouraging more efficient practices, such as less aggressive acceleration and braking is key, whether they are driving traditionally fuelled or latest technology plug in vehicles. Telematics systems can play a vital role in achieving this ambition.
Telematic devices monitor the whereabouts, speed and diagnostics of a vehicle, with the data shared on a central management system. GPS tracking is fundamental to telematics, enabling users to plot fuel and time efficiencies through assisted route planning and dynamic routing. These can ensure drivers avoid traffic jams or other incidents that reduce fuel efficiency.
Telematics can also encourage more efficient driving practices. By analysing how employees drive, companies can educate their drivers about more efficient driving techniques. This includes identifying inefficient practices such as keeping the engine running during frequent stops, which may highlight the need for stop/start technologies when procuring fleet vehicles in the future.
Some of the latest systems can also evaluate the drive cycle and hence whether a plug in vehicle may be suitable for the driver, or for those already using PHEVs ensure the electric mode is being fully utilised.
Planning your next move
In the short to medium-term, incorporating electric or plug in hybrid vehicles into your fleet can improve efficiencies. For businesses where significant urban driving is the norm, switching to electric vehicles can result in both lower fuel and tax costs and importantly also remove harmful particulate and NOx emissions.
With the Government’s continued focus on emissions and urban air quality its commitment to invest in electric vehicle technology and the infrastructure that supports it, are making the uptake of this vehicle class more attractive.
Advances in the technology itself have extended the battery range of the latest fully-electric models to over 200 miles from a single charge. The Government predicts that rapid charging points, which can provide up to an 80% charge in 30 minutes or less, will outnumber traditional fuel stations by 2020.
Looking to the future
Building a fleet for the medium and long-term means keeping an eye on legislative and technological developments. However, it’s important not to get carried away by vehicle technology that offers little added value to your fleet.
At Lex Autolease, our fleet consultants take a comprehensive approach to supporting your fleet management needs. By assessing how far your existing fleet meets your organisation’s requirements, we can help you consider which technologies can bridge any gaps, and undertake a thorough cost/benefit analysis of any solution.
We combine this with our industry insight and awareness of the direction and impact of upcoming legislation, for example stricter emissions targets for vehicle manufacturers, the changing corporate tax bands and restrictions on diesel vehicles. It allows us to help you make fleet management decisions with efficiency in mind, both now and in the future.
Throughout the year, Lex Autolease will publish insights focusing on the key issues facing fleets. For more information, visit our Driving Intelligence page.