7 Cost-Effective Strategies for Reducing Your Fleet’s Cost Per Mile
The costs of operating vehicle fleets can add up quickly. Fleet owners deal with typical expenses like maintenance and fuel, and the price of gasoline and diesel can be volatile, especially with supply chain disruptions and international conflict causing spikes. The unpredictability leads logistics professionals to consider every option available for saving money.
Fleet owners can use these seven cost-effective strategies to reduce the cost per mile and reap additional benefits.
Switching to Synthetic Oil
Fuel efficiency starts with the engine and the type of oil a fleet owner uses. Standard oil can get the job done but won’t provide the same benefits that vehicles see from synthetic blends. Synthetic oil rose to prominence in America during the 1970s, as the energy crisis forced people to find ways to improve their fuel economy.
Synthetic oil is advantageous for fleet owners because it’s cleaner for the engine. It has fewer impurities and doesn’t form sludge over time. Synthetic oil is especially beneficial during cold weather because it has a higher viscosity index, making it resilient to temperature changes. On hot and cold days, vehicles with synthetic oil require less effort to circulate fluids throughout the engine, thus reducing wasted energy and improving fuel economy.
Tracking Tire Pressure
Another excellent way fleet owners can improve their cost per mile is to track their vehicles’ tire pressures. The pounds per square inch (PSI) may seem like a trivial data point, but the cost per mile adds up over time. This includes the total costs divided by the number of miles a fleet drives. A truck driver can easily exceed 100,000 miles yearly, so the expenses quickly add up for owners with multiple vehicles.
The best strategy for fleet owners is to keep the tires inflated. Before leaving the premises, drivers should check the PSI to monitor the level. Tires at the proper PSI boost gas mileage by 0.6% on average, but some drivers can increase it by 3%. Conversely, underinflated tires compromise fuel mileage by about 0.2% for every PSI dropped. Drivers should ensure tires have proper inflation for safety and fuel mileage.
Fleet owners can use advanced technology like telematics to track employees on the road. Drivers who know they have a monitoring device are less likely to employ bad habits. Telematics improves driver safety and can reduce the cost per mile.
Telematics devices use artificial intelligence (AI) to track drivers and report when they are speeding, using their cellphones too much or letting the vehicle sit idly. Route optimization is a critical feature of telematics technology. Drivers using telematics can find more fuel-efficient routes that lower the cost per mile. Telematics also monitors the engine and other parts so fleet owners can see problems before they worsen.
Lowering Air Conditioner Use
Another adjustment drivers can make on the road is their air conditioning use. AC uses more fuel than any other auxiliary system in a vehicle. It can increase fuel expenditure by nearly 20% due to the engine’s increased load. Drivers traveling long distances can significantly affect the cost per mile if they use the air conditioner constantly.
Fleet owners can implement a policy for drivers to save fuel on the road. Drivers should turn the air conditioner off and open the windows when driving slowly. However, they should use it when driving on the highway or above 40 mph because the difference in fuel consumption becomes negligible. Drivers should also keep the windows closed to reduce drag and increase fuel economy.
Making Fuel-efficient Upgrades
Telematics, tire pressure and the air conditioner are all practical ways drivers can improve their fuel economy, but they can only go so far. Vehicles gradually see reduced engine performance and efficiency as they age. Fleet owners could opt for new cars or add new parts to the current ones. The long-term benefits of fuel-efficient upgrades will offset the upfront costs of part replacement. This can extend the car’s life and reduce maintenance costs.
Fleet owners can upgrade their vehicles with a high-flow cold-air intake system. This aftermarket swap imports cooler air into the intake system. It’s denser with oxygen, so the air-to-fuel ratio increases and the vehicles burn less fuel.
Replacing spark plugs is another manageable upgrade for fleet owners. Swapping the current set for iridium plugs improves fuel economy through a better ignition system.
Watching Vehicle Weight
Transporting goods is at the center of many fleets. The world wouldn’t be the same without truck drivers, delivery vans and more. However, fleet owners should be wary of their vehicles’ weights because they can significantly impact fuel economy. Automakers have made vehicles lighter over the years, but the pounds can still add up. Vehicles can increase their fuel economy by 1% for every 100 pounds removed from the machine.
Depending on the vehicles used, there are ways to decrease the weight without compromising the machine’s performance. One strategy some professionals use is swapping the tires. Lightweight wheels made from aluminum are strong and durable. Other options for lowering the weight are downsizing the engine and replacing the hood with an aluminum or carbon-fiber alternative. Over time, the fuel savings will add up.
There are numerous strategies for reducing the cost per mile, but they’re only as effective as the drivers who implement them. Fleet owners could create an incentive program for their employees by tracking their stats every month. For example, they could use a scorecard to monitor habits like speeding, productivity, fuel saved and seatbelt use. Top performers receive a prize at the end of the month, whereas the low rankers present a teaching opportunity.
Incentives go a long way for employees, no matter what industry they’re working in. About 81% of employees say rewards programs and recognition strengthen their sense of belonging at work. Rewards motivate people to do better, and friendly competition helps fleet owners reduce their cost per mile.
Reducing Fleet Costs in 2023
Managing vehicles can get expensive in a hurry. Fuel, maintenance and other expenses pile up for fleet owners who need to save every penny they can. Management teams can mitigate costs, and drivers can also take the initiative while on the road.
Fleet owners should look for these cost-effective strategies to stretch their dollars, which can also improve the planet’s health and boost employee morale.