Fleet cars- which vehicles should I choose?

The Ultimate Guide to Fleet Cars

Cars are the most common type of vehicle used by commercial fleets in the UK, and these can be owned either by a business, or owned by and employee and registered for commercial use.

Naturally, there are many considerations to be made around bringing the right fleet cars on board and creating the right infrastructure to facilitate a productive and hassle-free experience for your drivers that doesn’t break the brand.

Short-term considerations around the business’ bottom line, though, are not the only consideration to be made when picking your fleet cars. In fact, the legislative and ethical considerations surrounding the UK’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 should also play a role in how you design your commercial fleet.

For example, the UK is set to introduce a Zero Emission Vehicle mandate for car manufacturers in 2024 which will impact the types of cars that are on the market in the coming years. So, how do you go about bringing the right fleet cars on board?

Things to consider when choosing a fleet car

There are a number of factors to consider when procuring fleet cars for your company, and these factors will influence what make and model you choose to buy or lease, and which additional features are useful too.

Carry out some research following our guide below to help you pick the perfect fleet cars and other fleet vehicles for your fleets needs.

Usage and route planning

Understanding the types of journeys and routes the fleet car will need to do is the vital first step in picking the right vehicle. You’ll want your fleet car to be fit for purpose, so think about exactly what sort of trips it’s going to be making.

Long motorway trips, inner-city driving, country roads and off roading (perhaps for rural deliveries) may all require different vehicle capabilities, and this should be in the forefront of your mind when looking at car specifications and features. Powering your fleets is also crucial, and access to filling stations and electric charging stations can help determine whether you ought to invest in diesel, petrol, electric or hybrid vehicles – and whether you should look for features like stop-start technology to help increase efficiency and save costs.

Having an unsuitable car for the fleet’s needs can result in increased costs for the company, either through excessive fuel consumption or maintenance costs. You might find that cars ill-suited to motorway driving consume excessive amounts of fuel, or costly wear and tear, for example.

Similarly, consider the possible trajectory of environmental legislation as well as your business’ responsibility that might impact your fleet in coming years. For instance, if an electric vehicle offers many of the same benefits as a petrol or diesel car, consider choosing it over the latter in order to bolster your business’ efforts to minimise emissions.

Operational costs

The full scope of the cost of your fleet cars is not captured within its price tag. Instead, operational costs, maintenance, fuel, leasing, and tax must be considered to help you make an informed decision.

When looking at used cars in particular, it’s important to identify any faults or weakness that could incur future costs – and to develop a process for thoroughly inspecting second hand cars to spot any potential issues.

Repairs and maintenance

Maintenance is a cost that could end up high if you don’t do sufficient prior research, particularly when purchasing or leasing second hand fleet cars. We suggest conducting proper research by calculating projections around the real cost of the vehicles you’re interested in and gauging how expensive they’ll be within six months, a year, five years, and ten years based on vehicle makes, models, and ages.

Utilising a fleet vehicle maintenance software can also help you to stay in control and on top of maintenance needs for your fleet.

Safety

Safety is a huge factor when consider when picking your fleet vehicles but it’s also an important consideration when they’re on the road too. For this reason, its worth considering investing in fleet management technologies that will help to boost the safety of your fleet.

Tele-Gence is an advanced telematics service that is designed to improve driver safety and reduces costs too, with the use of the best market technology. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s also flexible and fully customisable so you can ensure that once you have picked the right fleet cars, you have a functional and tailored telematics service that fits the bill.

Business standards

After safety and other important decisions that influence driver safety and compatibility with the role your fleet car needs to play, you should consider your business standards and the image your want your fleet to communicate.

Company image is important, so by selecting your fleet cars and other vehicles to reflect your business appropriately you could help to unify this image. Factors to consider include branding and business objectives, as well as the value that standardisation could bring to your business if appearances matter.

Row of black fleet cars

Used fleet cars – the pros and cons

Used fleet cars can be a source of saving in many ways because of their age. This also applies to insurance rates, which are often lower for used vehicles and you can still find relatively new models for significantly less money than you would purchasing them new.

However, second hand cars are typically less reliable than their brand-new counterparts, and balancing base costs for the initial vehicle purchase against long-term maintenance and repair costs is key for fleet operators. You may find that a used car delivers unforeseen costs in maintenance, repair, and adjustments that a new vehicle simply might not.

If you opt for used fleet vehicles then take your time to research the vehicle value, have it inspected by a mechanic, check its VIN and history report as well as asking for warranties – and conduct a test-drive if possible.

Supply chain issues in the car production pipeline are currently having a harsh impact on second hand vehicles, pushing up prices while new vehicles are at reduced rated of production. Keep this in mind whilst looking of your second-hand fleet vehicles and be mindful that the price you pay for a fleet vehicle currently might not be reflective of its value.

The benefits of used fleet cars

  1. Lower depreciation hits.
  2. Lower car insurance rates.
  3. Cheap registry renewals.

The disadvantages of used fleet cars

  1. May not be as reliable as new vehicles.
  2. Wear and tear.
  3. Higher mileage.

New fleet cars – pros and cons

Purchasing or leasing a new fleet car can be a great way to avoid the typical used car challenges around longevity and maintenance – in favour of reliability. With access to better fuel economy, you may even find that the overall cost of your new vehicle is cheaper than a second-hand counterpart when forecasting over a number of years. Not to mention the peace of mind you may also enjoy from knowing that your vehicle doesn’t have a murky past.

The pitfall of a new vehicle, of course, is the upfront cost you are likely to pay. New cars are fundamentally more expensive and on top of the immediate cost there are additional fees to pay such as registration and auto sales tax.

With car production currently being affected by semiconductor chip shortage prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent fire in a Japanese factory, now is tricky time to look at purchasing new cars. Delays in the car production pipeline mean you need to act efficiently and consider the value and role of new cars for your fleet.

The benefits of new fleet cars

  1. Reliable.
  2. Up to date technologies.
  3. Low maintenance costs.
  4. No damage or wear.

The disadvantages of new fleet cars

  1. Expensive – both for the car and the addition fees (registration, auto sales tax, dealer documentation).
  2. Higher depreciation rates.

Fleet Management Services

We hope our fleet cars guide has helped make you aware of some of the key considerations to make when expanding your fleet in the modern day, as well as the legislation and market movements to look out for.

After you’ve made your vehicle choice and your fleet cars are out on the roads, make sure they operate as safely and efficiently as possible with invaluable fleet management services.

We offer a range of fleet services that can help with every aspect of fleet management from increasing safety with My Drive Safe, to tracking mileage with Mileage Count.

Get in touch with our experts today to discuss what fleet services might be of use to you.

vehicles parked on the side of the road

Where can drivers park on the road?

Many businesses use drivers to make deliveries. Whether it’s food or parcels, the UK lockdowns saw the rate of deliveries increase quite dramatically. With more drivers making deliveries, this means more cars need to park on our roads.

Therefore, businesses should know what rules exist that dictate where their drivers may or may not park. After all, drivers can’t guarantee that they’ll find a dedicated car park – especially a free one!

Where you can and can’t park

According to the highway code, there are certain places that parking is not permitted except in extreme cases.

Double yellow lines

car parked on a double yellow line

Drivers will of course be familiar with double yellow lines. Parking our waiting on these lines is forbidden at any time of day.

Blue badge holders are able to park on a double yellow for a maximum of 3 hours, providing there is no signage that indicates otherwise. Specific circumstances may allow loading or unloading on a double yellow as long as you are seen to be cautious. However, the rules regarding when you can and can’t load on a double yellow are somewhat vague – you may wish to encourage your drivers to avoid doing this just in case.

A parking fine of £70 is typically given to drivers who have parked on a double yellow. However, this is often reduced by 50% if the fine is paid within two weeks. Either way, this is not something businesses will want to deal with!

Clearways

clearway sign

A road with a blue and red sign indicates that stopping is not permitted in any case at any time, including blue badge holders. This road is a clearway, which means exactly what it says – keep the way clear!

These signs are often accompanied with additional information such as “for the next 5 miles”. There won’t be specific road markings like a double yellow line in on a clearway, so drivers must keep an eye out for these signs.

Double red lines

double red line on road

In some areas of the UK, you’ll see red lines instead of yellow. They are being introduced into cities such as London and Leeds to improve the flow of traffic.

Just like the double yellow, these lines indicate that stopping is prohibited at any time.

Pedestrian crossings

zebra crossing

Of course, parking on a pedestrian crossing is not permitted as it would obstruct access for people crossing. The zig-zag white lines leading up to the crossing must also be kept clear, as parked cars would risk obstructing a pedestrian’s view of the road.

Single yellow line

single yellow line

There are plenty of places on UK roads that drivers are permitted to park on at specific times of the day. One example of this is a single yellow line.

A single yellow line on a road indicates that you should not park on it. However, this restriction is often lifted outside of certain times. Often, you’re able to park on these lines in the evening or at the weekend. Should you need to park on a single yellow line, look for nearby signs that will indicate when you are permitted to do so.

Much like the double yellow, blue badge holders are able to park on single yellows for up to 3 hours as long as it is safe to do so, and the signage does not say otherwise.

Outside someone’s house

Whilst the residents of the house might not be happy about it, the law states that you are perfectly within your right to park outside someone’s home. Residents do not automatically get the right to park on the road in front of their home.

However, if a driver parks in front of a driveway and blocks someone in, this could be a violation. The local council potentially has the power to move the parked vehicle.

How to park on the road safely

The highway code gives drivers some tips on parking on the road properly:

  • Park as close to the curb as possible
  • Apply the handbrake, and switch off the engine and any lights
  • Don’t park against the flow of traffic
  • Ensure valuables are not visible in the vehicle
  • Don’t park too close to a vehicle that is displaying a blue badge

If the road on which you are parked has a speed limit of 30mph, parking lights must be left on to avoid other drivers colliding with your parked vehicle.

Additional places drivers cannot park

As well as places on the road marked by lines or signs, there are also a few places outlined by the Highway Code that drivers must not stop in, unless forced to by traffic or an emergency.

  • Near a school entrance
  • Anywhere that prevents access for emergency services
  • A bus, taxi or tram stop
  • Near the brow of a hill
  • On a lowered curb
  • On a bend

However, the wording of these rules in the Highway Code states that drivers “should not” park in these places. This creates a bit of legal ambiguity as to whether parking in these places is a crime, but parking fines can still be issued by local authorities if this guidance is ignored.

How can Fuel Card Services help?

We can’t find parking spaces for your drivers, but we can make sure they’re being safe out on the road! Our telematics service, Tele-Gence, helps fleet managers to track the whereabouts of their drivers, as well as reports on their driving behaviour.

If one of your drivers were to park somewhere they shouldn’t, you’ll be able to see it on the Tele-Gence software.

Tele-Gence can also be paired with your fuel card account. Whether you’re already a fuel card customer or a fleet manager looking to cut the cost of their operations, we’ve got the tools for you.

Get in touch today!

How electric vehicles help the environment

Does driving an electric vehicle help to protect the environment?

Friday 22nd April is Earth Day! It’s a day devoted to supporting environmental protection, so there’s no better time to start thinking about what we can do to combat climate change.

For fleet managers, there’s one obvious answer. Begin transitioning your fleet to electric vehicles!

Of course, this can take a number of years to fully transition, and Fuel Card Services is here to help fleets prepare for the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles with products such as the Shell Electric Vehicle Card.

But how exactly does driving an electric car help to protect the environment?

Electric vehicles do not emit harmful gases

The average passenger car will produce approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. This gas is emitted from the tailpipe and sent into the Earth’s atmosphere. Worldwide figures show that passenger cars alone were responsible for 3.2 billion metric tons of CO2 being sent into our atmosphere in 2019. This figure was lower the following year due to the pandemic, but will continue to rise again. This figure also does not take vans or HGVs into account, which also emit a huge volume of harmful gases.

Electric vehicles, however, do not contribute to this! The lithium-ion battery that is most commonly used to power an EV does not let off harmful substances when it is being drained.

For fleets doing thousands of miles a year, the amount of pollution they could prevent by switching to electric vehicles is huge.

Does vehicle charging contribute to pollution?

Of course, it’s easy to say that electric cars are better for the environment when out on the road, but what about on the forecourt? Charging EVs requires electricity, which is often provided from unsustainable resources. In many cases, fossil fuels are still burnt to provide the electricity we use in our day to day lives – this includes charging our vehicles.

However, it is suggested that the emissions caused by powering your EV chargers are offset by the lack of emissions from the vehicle itself. All in all, the overall emissions from charging and driving an EV are around 30% less than running a combustion engine vehicle.

Additionally, certain EV charging hubs are making efforts to be even more sustainable. Shell’s first all-EV charging hub in Fulham is built with sustainability in mind. The energy used to charge the vehicles is 100% renewable. Charging at a hub like this would reduce your emissions even more than charging at home for example, and more renewable energy sources are set to be used in the coming years.

Isn’t electric vehicle manufacturing worse for the environment?

Quite a common argument against the adoption of EVs is that manufacturing them is actually worse for the environment, making them less green. It’s suggested that in many cases, the production of EVs will produce more carbon emissions.

Whilst this may be true, these emissions are once again offset by the fact that EVs will produce less emissions over its lifetime.

Harmful gases will be emitted during an ICE vehicle’s production and during its time on the road. For an EV, the harmful emissions are massively reduced once it leaves the factory. Therefore, driving an EV leads to a greener carbon footprint than a vehicle burning fossil fuels.

When will your fleet adopt electric vehicles?

It may seem like a while away, but the government is set to ban new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 in an effort to reach net zero. Of course, you don’t have to make the change before then – you can still use ICE vehicles made before that date. However, fleet managers should consider the potential cost savings that come from running a fleet of EVs.

Remember, Fuel Card Services is here to help. We can help keep your charging costs down with the Shell Electric Vehicle Card. You can also use this fuel card to pay for traditional fuels as you slowly phase out ICE vehicles.

Get in touch today and we’ll get your fleet moving towards a greener future!

Fuel efficient driving

How can efficient driving reduce fuel costs?

Fuel efficient driving is all about taking or omitting actions in order to optimise your vehicle’s fuel usage and keep expenditures down.

With fuel prices fluctuating in 2022, optimising fuel usage is becoming an increasingly important consideration that fleet managers must make in order to remain competitive. That’s why we’ve pulled together some key tips and tricks to help facilitate this.

Implementing the majority of the techniques we’ll discuss in this article falls upon the driver, however fleet managers have a responsibility to support drivers in implementing these tactics, and also to ensure that drivers are equipped with the latest knowledge on how to be fuel efficient.

Which driving techniques can help you save fuel?

There are a number of tricks that can be used to maximise fuel efficiency and cut back on fuel costs for your fleet.

1. Focus on vehicle maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance is the first step that should be taken to ensure efficient fuel consumption and should always be a priority. By ensuring the vehicles in a fleet are well-looked after, and properly and regularly checked, vehicles will run better and consume less fuel.

Things to keep a regular eye on:

  • Tyres – pressure, damage, valve caps.
  • Fuel tank – fuel leaks from/around the tank, cap security.
  • Bodywork – any loose, torn, or protruding panels or bodywork.
  • Start-up – any unusual mechanical noises, or smoke.
  • Moving off – steering pulling, dragging breaks, tracking issues.

Regularly checking these factors and keeping an eye out for changes in functionality will keep vehicles running smoothly and allow for issues to be rectified swiftly. Ultimately, well maintained vehicles will drive more efficiently while also proving less likely to result in expensive repair bills that can emerge from a long-term lack of attention.

2. Keep tyres properly inflated

Having tyres inflated to the appropriate pressure will have a positive impact on fuel consumption. Underinflated tyres, for instance, can cause your car to drag and waste fuel. In fact, for every 1% decreases in tyre pressure, fuel economy decreases by 0.3%.

3. Only carry necessary weight

It’s no secret that the heavier a vehicle is, the slower it will accelerate – and the harder it will have to work to maintain speed. For this reason, keeping vehicle weight to the necessary minimum will help fleet vehicles get from A to B with the most efficient use of fuel.

4. Avoid harsh breaking

Harsh breaking makes for inefficient fuel usage for a number of reasons. Braking hard brings you down to speeds that require the lower gear much faster, and these are more taxing on your fuel tank. Post braking, accelerating is much more efficient if you haven’t reached very low speeds or had to stop altogether.

In terms of how drivers can put this into practice, take for example when a driver is approaching a red light. Braking late and decreasing speed sharply could result in the driver having to drop into the lowest gear or come to a complete standstill at the lights.

Conversely, starting the braking process earlier and decreasing speed very gently could result in never having to come to a stop at all- meaning you could get back up to speed without wasting fuel. What’s more, this method is likely to cause less wear-and-tear for your brake pads.

5. Keep to the highest appropriate gear

Keeping to the highest gear suitable for the speed you are travelling helps to make you fuel consumption as efficient as possible. When driving at 30mph, for instance, some vehicles will comfortably sit in 4th gear. This will keep revs down and fuel consumption down too.

6. Use cruise control, where available

Cruise control, when used correctly, can save as much as 14% on fuel. Travelling at a continuous speed is one of the most efficient ways to travel, so having cruise control on when on motorways and A roads can help you keep your speed consistent.

7. Plan your journey

Where you drive has as much effect on fuel efficiency as how you drive. Route planning is therefore a fantastic step to take when looking to ensure that fuel usage is made efficient through optimising your journeys. Look at the roads you intend to travel and consider that a shorter journey isn’t always the most efficient.

Opting to travel on larger, straighter roads can maximise fuel efficiency and combining trips rather than doing many shorter ones are ways that you can better plan journeys. Traffic is also a key component of route planning, and understanding whether a route is likely to be busy or not can help reduce your fuel bill over time by ensuring your drivers don’t have to sit in traffic with their engines ticking over.

Telematics services like Tele-Gence can help you plan journeys and keep costs down. Tele-Gence is fully customisable so you can tailor it to your fleet requirements and save money and improve safety.

8. Turn your engine off

A vehicle that’s off is a vehicle that’s saving fuel. If your vehicle is stationary for longer than a couple of minutes, turn the engine off. The fuel you’ll save when at a stop will quickly add up.

How can missing out some gear changes save fuel?

An often-overlooked tactic for efficient driving is eliminating unnecessary gear changes when accelerating. Missing out gear changes can help to save fuel by reducing the overall time spent accelerating, but must be done with care.

Does coasting save fuel?

Coasting (depressing the clutch and using momentum rather than the engine to carry the vehicle) is not only a bad tactic for fuel conservation, but it also a risky driving technique.

In most modern vehicles, coasting won’t save much fuel and will leave you with significantly less control over your vehicle. Having the engine engaged will help you if you need to break or accelerate in response to external factors.

Does stop-start save fuel?

Stop-start technology aims to save fuel by turning your engine off when stationary. Whilst this won’t save you tonnes of fuel in the short-term, stop-start will help with fuel consumption over time, particularly on journeys that might feature lots of traffic lights or junctions.

Managing your fuel with Fuel Card Services

Fuel Card Services can provide a range of services designed to help fleet managers stay in control of fuel consumption and spending. With fuel costs increasing, now is the best time to get in touch with our experts and find out what fuel cards and services could help you streamline your fleet operations.

Choosing the right EV for your fleet

Choosing the right EV for your fleet

Electric vehicles have come a long way in recent years, and with the incoming 2030 ban on fossil fuel burning vehicles, it might be time for your business to start thinking about making the transition to EVs.

There are many things a fleet manager must consider when choosing an EV. It’s still true that you’re still likely to spend a little more purchasing an electric car than a traditional one. With that in mind, it’s vital that fleet managers put much consideration into the needs of their business when adopting an EV fleet.

Analyse your current vehicles’ routes

One of the first steps is to decide which of your vehicles could be replaced with EVs. The average range of an electric vehicle is just shy of 200 miles on a single charge. If you have vehicles doing less than that in a single day, they are prime candidates to be replaced with electric vehicles! It will also be a lot easier to analyse the mileage of your current vehicles if you are making use of a good telematics system like Tele-Gence.

Remember that weather conditions and battery drainage can have negative effects on the amount of mileage you can achieve on a single charge, and the range listed on vehicle specifications tend to be on the optimistic side.

When choosing the right vehicle, your mileage is the most obvious consideration. You might be tempted to go with the cheaper option, but if it lacks range then you’ll have to charge more often. This will lead to more down time and a potential loss of profits.

When looking at your vehicles’ typical routes, the next thing to consider would be the availability of charging points.

Charging points

Public charging at forecourts is becoming more accessible every single year. For example, Shell recently opened their first all-EV charging hub. We’re likely to see more of these hubs pop up all over the UK in the coming years.

However, charging in public tends to be the more expensive option. If possible, you’ll want to install vehicle charging points at your base of operations. That way, vehicles can charge overnight and be ready for the next day. Alternatively, your drivers might take their work vehicles home with them and charge overnight there.

Both of these options are cheaper than going to a public charging space, and if your drivers do less than the average 200 miles per day, this will make transitioning to EVs a whole lot easier for your fleet!

Whilst getting chargers installed at home or at your depot can be expensive, you’re still likely to save in the long run. The cost of running electric vehicles is cheaper on average than traditional vehicles despite the heftier up front cost.

Furthermore, the UK government offers grants to those having chargers installed. This is part of their effort to reach net zero by 2050.

Consider payload weight

When choosing the specific EV that your fleet will acquire, payload weight is something you should think about. This is especially true when it comes to electric vans.

It is recommended that you clear out your current vehicles before acquiring an EV. This will help you to determine whether you are carrying excessive weight. Are there tools or building materials being stored in your vehicles that are no longer needed, for example?

Also consider how many people will be expected to occupy the vehicle. If your drivers are typically carrying more than one person, this could affect the overall range of an EV. As mentioned earlier, the range listed on vehicle specifications tends to be optimistic, and is likely measured with only the driver in the vehicle, and does not account for passengers. Therefore, if you are a taxi firm for example, you might want to get an electric car with more range than you think you will need, just to be on the safe side.

How can Fuel Card Services help?

At Fuel Card Services, we are now offering customers the Shell Electric Vehicle Card. If your fleet is going to rely on using public charging points once using EVs, then this card could save you up to 2p per kWh when you use a Shell charging site.

With this card, you’ll get access to over 7,500 charging points, with nearly 1,000 of those being rapid chargers! Of course, Shell is constantly expanding their network of charging points, so this card will only become more useful over time.

What makes this card a great choice for fleets who are slowly transitioning to EVs is that it can be used to purchase traditional fuels as well – it’s flexible and convenient, and will help you on the road to becoming a fully electric fleet.

Get in touch with our experts today and we’ll see how we could keep the wheels of your fleet spinning with the Shell Electric Vehicle Card!