4 Ways to Green Your Business Vehicle Fleet

Switching vehicles destined for short trips, like this flower delivery van, to electric can cut costs and impact.
Switching vehicles destined for short trips, like this flower delivery van, to electric can cut costs and impact.

By Paul Fincham

Green vehicles provide a more efficient fleet, while saving your business money on fuel, taxes, maintenance and even fleet insurance. When you pick cleaner vehicles, you are able to improve your balance sheet as well as your corporate social responsibility (CSR) cred.

So, what is the best approach to greening your fleet? The solutions below can result in cost savings from reduced fuel consumption, optimized route planning and improved vehicle maintenance.

1. Put limitations on vehicle make and model choice

When selecting or offering company vehicles to employees, you should take advantage of technical improvements and manufacturer enhancements to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Your vehicle selection can reinforce company policies and priorities by moving toward hybrids, diesels, smaller cars or even car-sharing.

It is important to first gain employee buy-in. Being forced to change to a specific type of company vehicle can cause disharmony with some employees. So, it’s important to communicate the advantages to them appropriately. Make them aware of the money it can save them: Employees will see reduced benefit in kind (BiK) taxes in some countries, as well as a savings in private fuel costs. Offering an acceptable amount of choice within your limits on CO2 emissions will also help to avoid employee dissatisfaction.

When looking to green your business vehicles, full consideration needs to be given to adopting electric vehicles (EVs). Running a few around town may make sense for those shorter journeys. But those traveling and building up higher mileage should need to consider the operational challenges that come with electric vehicles. Recharging, service, maintenance and repair can be more difficult for those undertaking longer journeys. Usually a mix of some petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles within your portfolio will provide you with a better solution. Make sure the right vehicle is being used for the right purpose.

When investigating vehicle choice, it is also important to take a whole-life cost approach. Whole-life costs include the cost of running and servicing a vehicle over its replacement cycle. This will provide the best estimate of real costs to your business. It can be argued that in most cases the whole-life cost of electric vehicles can be far more beneficial to your business. Yes, the up-front list price will be much higher when compared to petrol or diesel. Often the vehicle cost is considered as a barrier to purchase, but when savings of about 8 pence per mile in fuel and 20 to 30 percent in service, maintenance and repair costs are considered they can be well worth the initial investment.

2. Encourage eco-driving techniques

By influencing your employee’s driver behavior with education, training and communication, you can achieve significant improvements on your carbon footprint. Driver training can help to focus on things like better anticipation of potential hazards ahead, improved braking and gear changing technique for efficient fuel consumption. On average, you can realistically seek to reduce fuel consumption by 15 to 20 percent with the aid of driver training.

Not only does the adoption of eco-driving techniques cut fuel consumption, but it will also generate safer drivers with reduced risk of accidents and unwanted downtime as a result.

Many driver training providers also quote a reduction of up to 15 percent in fuel costs as a result of driver training. They believe that defensive drivers are 20 percent less likely to be involved in a collision, not to mention the savings in maintenance and repair.

3. Invest in vehicle technology

Better route planning and scheduling of vehicles through the use of telematics and GPS equipment helps to optimize the use of your vehicles. An efficient green fleet where the best vehicle is used for the job, or sending your closest vehicle to the next assignment, helps to reduce overall mileage making significant differences in CO2 emissions, fuel and maintenance. Access to the quickest routes and traffic information can significantly save wasted time on the road and reduce mileage.

Vehicle technology can also be used to measure driving techniques and encourage improved driver behaviour. Technology can help with reducing vehicle speed, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, concentration techniques and hazard perception.

4. Always question driver journeys

You should consistently be challenging your employees as to whether their journey is a necessity. Consider if there are alternatives available. Push for shared journeys or modes of transport with reduced CO2 emissions and overall costs. Ensuring that full consideration is given to each journey will instill a culture of operating a green fleet with fuel consumption and carbon emission reduction as a priority. In addition to this by capping business mileage you can automatically reduce unnecessary journeys which will naturally get weeded out.

Going green has become a prominent trend for business fleets and practices such as selecting fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles to meet environmental legislation is continuing to grow in popularity. It’s the end of the road for gas-guzzling executive cars. More and more businesses are committed to meeting their corporate social responsibilities. By reducing emissions and greening your business vehicles you can not only meet your environmental obligations, but can clearly save money for your business as you go.

Image credit: Flickr/Will Wynne

Paul has 24 years’ experience in the motor insurance industry and has a wealth of knowledge in this area. As Motor Fleet Broker for Bluedrop Services, Paul specialises in Motor Fleet Insurance. He offers advice and support to customers managing Motor Fleets with a commitment to the environment, advising how to reduce your fleet insurance premiums through sustainability policies.

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