A car parks alongside a petrol pump with a variety of options

Top 4 fuel choices for your fleet – which is right for you?

When you’re operating a fleet, keeping costs as low as possible is a key consideration if you’re going to turn a profit. And one of the main costs for any road-based business is always fuel.

However, it’s important to remember that fuel is a controllable expense, not one that simply needs to burn through money. In order to boost efficiency, you’ll want to ensure that you’re always using the best types of fuel for your business needs.

But how will you know which is the best choice if you’re thinking of upgrading your vehicles? Let’s take a look at the four main options currently available.

Petrol

Petrol vehicles have typically been the most popular on Britain’s roads, largely because they’re the cheapest to both buy and refuel. They are also getting greener thanks to the addition of features like turbochargers and fewer cylinders.

However, they can be prone to overheating and they still emit unburned hydrocarbons, particulates and carbon monoxide from their exhausts. This meant that when emissions first began to be used as a factor in taxes paid on company cars, many businesses opted to switch to diesel.

Diesel

A high proportion of fleet owners have traditionally opted for diesel vehicles, with brands such as Transit having built reputations for solidity and reliability. They usually have a longer lifespan and can actually offer better fuel consumption than petrol engines.

Indeed, diesel vehicles can use up to 30 per cent less fuel and emit 20 per cent less carbon dioxide than their petrol counterparts. However, they unfortunately emit far more exhaust particulate matter, particularly nitrous oxide. This can penetrate the human lungs due to its respirable size.

With research linking air pollution to thousands of deaths per year in built-up areas, this is undoubtedly a concern. Diesel shouldn’t be written off just yet, though, as carmakers are fighting back. New tech such as filters and additives aim to remove the dangerous particles before they are pumped into the atmosphere.

Hybrid

Hybrid vehicles are powered using a combination of a petrol or diesel engine and an electric battery, with the battery recharged while the vehicle is driven or through braking. Plug-in hybrids can also be charged from an external power supply.

This type of vehicle is becoming ever-more popular among fleet owners, as they can cut carbon dioxide emissions by as much as a quarter compared to petrol. Meanwhile, Which? research suggests petrol-hybrids are the most reliable type of engine.

However, range can still be an issue if longer trips are required, with hybrids most suited to shorter journeys around urban areas due to battery limitations.

All-electric

Electric car at charging point with digital graphic overlay

With no fossil fuel-based engine at all, all-electric vehicles (EVs) are powered purely with a battery and an electric motor. That means they’re about as green as you can get – zero emissions whatsoever are emitted while driving, plus they can usually be charged up from a standard power point (although super-fast charging may require dedicated infrastructure).

Fleet owners could also enjoy the added benefits of fewer moving parts meaning lower costs in areas such as servicing in the long term.

As with hybrid vehicles, distance per battery charge can still be a drawback when it comes to EVs, but this is something that is improving all the time. Manufacturers such as Tesla now boast EVs that can comfortably last more than 200 miles, meaning most fleet drivers should be covered without having to stop for more juice.

Assessing what you’ll need

The best way to work out which of the above is best for your fleet is to take a look at your current performance, define where you want to be and then look for opportunities for improvement.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is travelling and how often?
  • How far are your fleet drivers going?
  • What type of environment are they travelling in?
  • How important are your green credentials?

This should provide insight into which vehicle and fuel choice (or combination) is best for your particular circumstances.

How fuel cards can help

If you’re keen to collect more information about the fuel your fleet is currently using, a great option could be to issue fuel cards. You may already have seen these on garage forecourts, with companies that use Shell fuel, for example, able to pay with a Shell card.

Drivers simply charge the cost of fuel to their employer’s account and the final bills are paid monthly in arrears.

They are beneficial in this case as most fuel cards will issue economy reports as part of their service, which can then be used to analyse consumption and easily see where improvements can be made.

Other benefits of fuel cards include:

  • Discounts on purchases
  • Ability to separate business and personal mileage
  • Reduction in administration
  • More secure in the event of theft
  • Incentive to drivers to cover fewer miles and drive more economically

Environment a bigger part of public policy

A smiling man driving a van gives a thumbs up

With green issues now a key focus for the government, it may be that we will all soon be required to make more environmentally-friendly choices when it comes to what we’re driving.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that there needs to be a 50 per cent reduction in global emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050, while the UK government has set even more ambitious targets of 80 per cent.

Electrification of car and van fleets is being seen as a big part of this, although much criticism has been aimed at ministers for failing to have a true masterplan for the decarbonisation of transport.

For instance, the Committee on Climate Change said it wants to see greater incentives for commercial fleets to buy more efficient vehicles, which may include tax breaks and better charging infrastructure for HGVs.

Which fuel is best for you?

In the meantime, with petrol and diesel vehicle sales set to continue on top of the other options until 2030, the choice of fuel essentially remains down to the fleet manager.

However, by taking into account the business requirements, lifecycle costs, data monitoring and environmental concerns detailed above, you should hopefully now have a better idea about what fuel choice would be best for your fleet. Contact us to find out more about fuel types and which fuel card would work best for you.

Electric car at charging point with digital graphic overlay

What are the implications of accelerating the shift to zero emissions?

The UK’s shift to a low-carbon economy is well underway. Yet amid concerns that original plans weren’t ambitious enough, it’s now clear that the pace of this change is accelerating. This means businesses have less time than they may think to adapt their operations to the new way of thinking.

This will affect many aspects of how firms operate, but one particular focus will be on their transport operations. Fleets will have to start moving toward a low or even zero emission future quickly. If they don’t, they risk falling foul of new rules, being left behind by competitors, or facing large additional costs.

The coming changes to the UK’s transport network

The UK’s transportation network will be at the heart of the drive to a carbon-neutral future. According to government figures, the transport sector accounted for 27 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. What’s more, 90 per cent of this came from road traffic, so it’s clear this will have to be a top priority when developing a low-carbon economy.

That’s why the government is bringing forward plans to move toward electric cars. It’s committed to banning the sale of any new fully petrol or diesel vehicles by 2030 – a decade earlier than previously expected. While some hybrid models will still be allowed after this date, these too are expected to be phased out by 2035. While for now, second-hand sales are unaffected, it will mean fleet buyers have to rethink their plans.

At the same time, the use of low-emission zones in many towns and cities is also set to become more commonplace. If you’re still relying on a heavily petrol and diesel-based fleet, this could mean it becomes prohibitively expensive to operate in urban areas in the coming years. Therefore, you’ll need to have at least some of your fleet using low or zero-emission vehicles to avoid this.

Do you need a zero-emissions fleet?

Close up of an electric car charger with female in the background

If you’re planning on buying new vehicles after 2030, you won’t have any choice but to go electric or hybrid. But you shouldn’t be waiting until this date to make plans for a zero emission future. Firms that run electric vehicles (EVs) can already take advantage of reduced running costs, lower emissions and a better reputation among customers.

Many larger brands are recognising the benefits of a zero-emissions approach to their fleets. Parcel delivery firm DPD, for example, which runs a large fleet of vans, added over 700 EVs to its fleet in 2020. This means more than ten per cent of its vehicles are now electric. By 2025, the firm aims to reduce its final-mile emission by 89 per cent, using EVs only for 25 of the UK’s largest towns and cities.

Chief executive of the firm Dwain McDonald said: “We know retail customers want this and the reaction on the doorstep is great when recipients see that their parcel has been delivered emission-free too. So, that is a great base for us to build on.”

It’s clear, therefore, that if companies want to keep customer satisfaction high, adopting a zero emissions goal for their fleets will be essential. They will also have to do this sooner rather than later – not just to meet regulations, but to keep up with competitors.

The challenges of moving to electric vehicles

Of course, moving to an all-electric fleet is easier said than done. There will be a range of challenges involved in this, and it’s not something you should be attempting to do all at once.

Among the questions you’ll have to answer when adopting these vehicles are:

  • Where and how will these vehicles be recharged?
  • How do you reimburse drivers for electricity usage?
  • Will employees have to change their driving styles to use EVs efficiently?
  • Should you install dedicated charging points – and if so, how much will these cost?
  • Will drivers be resistant to EVs?
  • Will you have to alter your route planning to take into account charging points?

With careful planning and communication with employees, many of these issues can be overcome. And the sooner businesses start thinking about this, the better placed they’ll be when EVs are the norm.

One issue will be charging speeds. Traditionally, ‘refuelling’ EVs with power is a much lengthier process than dropping onto a forecourt for a couple of minutes. But this is beginning to change. Charging technology is improving all the time and fuel brands are also starting to focus more closely on this area.

BP Pulse for example, recently announced a new partnership with The EV Network that will greatly expand its fast-charging infrastructure. The company is aiming to have 16,000 charge points by 2030, with a particular priority placed on ultra-fast chargers.

Managing a mixed fleet

Close-up of a row of parked commercial vans

Another challenge will be how you manage a mixed fleet of petrol, diesel and electric vehicles. This can be especially challenging when it comes to managing the expenses associated with keeping cars on the road.

However, there are an increasing number of solutions available to help with this. For example, more companies are developing electric fuel cards that can help fleet managers keep control of their EV cars and vans. In the coming years, these will be essential for many businesses in ensuring their employees can keep their electric cars ready for whatever the business demands of them.

Shell, for example, has introduced a new EV card that can be used at any of its Recharge points throughout the UK. There are currently over 100 of these, but the brand is aiming to have more than 5,000 such charging stations operational by 2025.

Having fuel cards that offer cost savings and ease of use for all vehicles in a fleet, whether these are petrol, diesel, hybrid or full electric, will be a key priority for many businesses in the coming years. With an EV-first environment closer than many firms think, they will have to plan now for the future.

If you want to know more about how to incorporate electric cars into your operations, get in touch with Fuel Card Services today for expert advice.

Allstar adds 110 charging points to the EV network

In a recent deal with Gronn Kontakt, Allstar have secured an additional 47 charging sites to their network. These sites add 110 charging points to Allstar’s multi-branded network.

Gronn Konakt, an electric vehicle charging company, are owned by Statkraft. This is Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy and is owned by the Norwegian state.

For customers of the Allstar One Electric card, this deal is great news. They now have access to these 110 charging points. This is the 8th network of charging sites to be added to their network. Users of this card now have access to over 1500 locations in the UK with 3700 individual charging points.

The Allstar One Electric card includes the benefits received by customers of the Allstar One card. Customers are not only given a way to pay for the use of charging stations, but are also given access to Allstar’s massive multi-branded network of fuelling stations with savings on diesel.

Why do we need more electric charging points?

These additional charging sites are a response to the government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol or diesel cars and vans in 2030.  The ban is part of a 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” set out by the UK Prime Minister.

Along with a shift towards nuclear power and the development of towns heated entirely by “low carbon” hydrogen, the government hopes to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles and invest in electric charging infrastructure.

Therefore, over the next few years, businesses will be making the transition to a fleet of electric vehicles. The Prime Minister has said that some hybrid vehicle will still be permitted for development, which is an attractive option for HGV users who might be concerned that an electric vehicle can’t match the power of a vehicle that uses diesel, for example.

Allstar have stated that 30% of their customers have already switched to electric vehicles in their fleet. A further 65% of their customers plan to make the transition over the next 3 years.

With so many electric vehicles being introduced to the road, we can expect to see more charging stations in the near future.

Electric vehicle charging cable connected to electric car

Reducing charge point and range anxiety

These extra charging sites will greatly reduce anxieties regarding electric vehicles.

Users of electric vehicles have often expressed concerns about running out of charge during transit. Research also shows that electric vehicle users are now more anxious about being unable to find a point to charge their vehicle.

These anxieties have been putting fleet owners off the idea of transitioning to electric vehicles. Different vehicles also require different connectors when charging. Because of this, fleet owners who desire convenience would much prefer to stick with fuel powered vehicles until a universal charging method is commonplace.

However, adding more sites to the UK’s network of charging points means drivers have less cause for worry. They will have more options as to where they can charge their vehicle and are less likely to run out of power.

Once a fleet owner is convinced that their drivers will have access to enough charging points, and charging is as convenient as filling up a tank at fuel pump, they will be much more likely to transition to electric vehicles.

How can you prepare for the 2030 ban?

Over the next decade, you can expect to see a huge increase in electric vehicles on the road. Since the government plans to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles, electric vehicles are the inevitable future. It’s worth considering how your fleet can adopt the use of electric vehicles.

If you’d like to know what you can do to prepare for this transition, get in touch with our team. We’re happy to help.

Will the chancellor hike fuel duty prices in the March budget?

Fuel prices have risen above pre-covid levels, with petrol above 120p-a-litre and diesel prices are back to yearly highs, at 124p-a-litre. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has come under increasing pressure to freeze fuel duty again as the cost of petrol at the pump rises.

Despite high demand, Rishi Sunak is thought to be considering hiking fuel duty by 5p-a-litre in next month’s budget as he attempts to get the UK’s debts under control.

Fuel duty contributes £27billion to the nation’s economy and has remained frozen at 57.95p per litre since 2011. The fear is that should Rishi Sunak hike fuel duty then it could hinder the UK’s recovery and would be a particular hammer blow to the North.

What the industry is saying

Campaigners against the rise have warned Chancellor Sunak that drivers outside the South East spend a third more of their incomes on fuel.

The haulage and fleet industries are stepping up the pressure on the Chancellor to freeze or cut fuel duty. The Road Haulage Association is just one organisation that is calling on the government not to introduce a fuel duty price hike in the March budget.

The RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said “For an industry that has to make every single penny count, the effect of a duty increase of just 1p per litre will be devastating and will mean the end of the road for many operators”.

This comes despite the Prime minister, Boris Johnson, promising the nation that duty would not be hiked.

Downing Street opposes tax hikes

The prospect of fuel duty increases has garnered fierce criticism from some politicians, such as Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon warning “Now is not the time to clobber workers, families, white van men and women and our public services with a fuel duty increase.” At a time that many industries are rallying to rebuild the economy, critics warn that raising the cost of fuel is counterproductive and will place additional stress on businesses and workers.

While the government have not confirmed the fuel duty hike, Rishi Sunak’s March budget is widely expected to include is as well as other changes affecting the haulage industry significantly.

While this might be an unwelcome addition to the March budget, Fuel Card Services can save companies up to 10p per litre on their fuel. Join the 50,000+ customers saving on their fuel and contact us today.

Man with tablet displaying data in front of fleet of vans

10 ways of effectively managing your fleet

Fleet managers have to balance a wide range of issues. Planning routes, scheduling maintenance, working out expenses and ensuring regulations are followed, all place pressure on these professionals’ time. This is not to mention the constant demands to keep productivity high and costs low.

However, there are a few steps you can take to make your job more efficient and deliver the best results for the business. With the help of a good fleet management system, you can ensure all your drivers and vehicles are operating to their full potential, tackle issues before they turn into major problems, and cut costs.

Here are ten things you should therefore be doing to make the most of your assets.

1.  Access real-time information

The first thing any fleet manager needs in order to work effectively is full visibility into their cars, vans and drivers. This means having access to real-time data that can show them at a glance the location of every vehicle and employee, what their status is and if there are any issues.

To do this, you’ll need an effective telematics system. This connects to a vehicle’s computer and uses a range of sensors to give information on everything from its location and speed to driver inputs. This can be fed constantly back to base via mobile networks or even satellites. As a result, fleet managers are always up-to-date.

Real-time data is also essential for many of the below solutions, so if you don’t have it you’ll be working with one hand tied behind your back.

2.  Implement GPS tracking

A key part of any real-time information solution will be instant details of your fleet’s locations via GPS. This can be vital if you need to dispatch an employee to a certain destination, as you can see at a glance who is available and best-positioned to respond.

However, it can also be used to help record mileage and hours spent on the road, divert drivers away from areas of congestion and even provide customers with real-time updates on when they can expect your employees to arrive.

3.  Improve route planning

GPS tools can also be used in combination with other tech solutions to improve your frms’ route planning. This isn’t just about finding the shortest way from A to B. It should also take into account factors such as expected fuel consumption along the route and the distance to the cheapest filling stations.

For example, if a vehicle is spending a lot of time stuck in traffic with the engine idling, this results in greater fuel consumption and higher costs. With good route planning tools, this can be avoided.

4.  Monitor driver behaviour

Dashboard view of person driving a car down motorway

Being able to keep an eye on how your employees are driving is also essential. First and foremost, this improves safety. If fleet telematics data shows frequent speeding, or sensors detect harsh control inputs, you can step in to address this. You can even generate league tables that show your best and worst-performing drivers, highlighting who you need to speak to most urgently.

This can also help reduce fuel consumption. By monitoring inputs such as acceleration and braking, you can educate employees to drive more smoothly as well as safely. Indeed, almost half of businesses (49 per cent) using telematics have seen a reduction in speeding incidences and fines, while 55 per cent experienced a drop in fuel usage.

5.  Reduce your fuel costs

While better route planning and driver monitoring can help improve your fuel consumption, you should also make sure you’re not paying over the odds at the pump. To do this, it pays to have a suitable fuel card for your usage.

There are a wide range of products to choose from, so it’s important to get this right. It may be the case that the cheapest option isn’t very convenient for your firm. You also need to consider whether you’d benefit from cards with wider motorway networks, for example, and which brands have locations nearest your most common routes.

6.  Predict maintenance

Breakdowns can be a major headache for fleet managers. As well as the direct costs to fix problems, having vehicles off the road unexpectedly also hurts the firm’s productivity. You can avoid this by using the data taken from telematics systems to predictively schedule maintenance. These tools can highlight potential issues and allow you to step in before they turn into serious problems.

7.  Automate your expenses

Closeup of people calculating expenses with receipts and pen and paper

Admin work is often among the most time-consuming parts of a fleet manager’s job. Working out details such as mileage claims, expenses, fuel MPG and other details are essential but tedious activities. But with the right fleet management systems, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Being able to calculate these figures automatically, based on data recorded by the telematics system, doesn’t just free up your time. It also ensures the data is accurate and can highlight any unusual events – such as vehicles doing significantly more miles than expected – for investigation.

8.  Set up security alerts

Spotting and cracking down on authorised usage is also essential. For example, you can set up alerts that let you know if a vehicle is being used outside normal office hours. You can also establish geofencing to warn you if a car goes beyond a certain area.

This isn’t only useful for identifying any employees using company assets for personal use. It can also help you quickly track down any stolen vehicle, using GPS tracking to guide police directly to it.

9.  Tackle fuel fraud

Another major concern for many fleet managers is the risk of fuel fraud, such as employees filling personal vehicles using a company fuel card or making claims for miles they haven’t done. Telematics can help spot issues with expenses, while a good fuel card can also help by ensuring vehicle locations match fuel card usage, for example.

10.             Manage your vehicle inventory

A good fleet management system can also help keep track of your vehicle inventory. This allows you to better plan ahead for replacements, get alerts when services or MOTs are due, and prepare your finances.

You can also see at a glance details such as the types of fuel used, which will be important to know when selecting a fuel card, and can factor into future buying decisions. For instance, if the majority of your fleet is petrol-powered, you may want to consider phasing out any remaining diesels to simplify your operations.

If you want to know more about how effective fleet management systems can benefit your business, get in touch with our team today.