New Articles

How Fleet Managers Can Encourage Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

How Fleet Managers Can Encourage Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

How Fleet Managers Can Encourage Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

Fuel is one of the highest costs for fleet managers. Unfortunately, the price of gas and diesel fluctuates often. The past few years have been challenging because of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

These factors have caused gas prices to skyrocket and stay high, and fleet owners must find ways to cut costs. Here’s how they can encourage their drivers to save fuel while on the road. 

Enforcing New Policies

The most direct way to encourage fuel-efficient driving habits is to enforce new policies for drivers. Fleet managers could set efficiency metrics for the team and have them aim for specific targets each quarter. Some companies establish a speed limit for their drivers to ensure they get the best mileage possible. 

Training Drivers From the Start

One way to make policies effective is for fleet managers to communicate their expectations from the start. Hiring managers and supervisors can encourage fuel-efficient driving habits by showing new people in training. These workers could be entry-level, first-time employees or seasoned veterans. Either way, fleet managers should ensure they know the expectations and metrics they need to reach.  

Giving Feedback to Drivers

One of the best methods to improve driving habits is to give feedback. Letting employees know how they’re doing and if they’re being fuel-efficient gives them direct knowledge of whether they’re performing well or need improvement. Today’s technology is beneficial because supervisors don’t have to sit with people while they operate. They can use telematics to give feedback from anywhere. 

Telematics serves multiple beneficial purposes for fleet owners, but the best one may be the ability to increase fuel efficiency. These devices recognize drivers’ habits and provide real-time feedback to improve performance. Sometimes drivers may accelerate too quickly on the highway or leave the truck running idle for longer than allowed. Telematics devices can also tell people if there’s a better route with less traffic. 

Altering Driver Schedules

Using telematics is one of the best tools at a fleet manager’s disposal. The ability to see traffic patterns can help companies ease supply chain pains by delivering on time and early. Managers can also keep this in mind for their drivers. Paying attention to trends by the time of day or year can encourage fuel-efficient driving.

Fleet managers should create routes daily based on traffic patterns in the area. The time of day can impact congestion significantly. One highway could have traffic jams frequently in the morning but be mostly clear by midday. Driving at night typically brings less traffic on most routes. 

Another factor to consider is holidays, which could come in the middle of the week if the government doesn’t fix them on a particular day. Also, fleet managers should consider holidays that are exclusive to specific states and counties. These days can affect traffic significantly, so supervisors must be mindful of the traffic patterns. 

Being Mindful of Fuel Capacity

Drivers can go for long stretches in rural areas without seeing a gas station. For example, vehicles on Interstate 70 in Utah can travel for over 100 miles without coming across a service station. Drivers who encounter roads like this should calculate their vehicles’ fuel range to avoid running out of gas. 

For example, say a driver’s car gets 30 MPG and has a 12-gallon fuel tank. They should be able to travel 360 miles on a single tank. Practicing fuel-efficient habits can increase mileage. However, fleet managers should encourage drivers to refuel once the tank reaches 25% remaining. Drivers should multiply the range by .75 and refuel after 270 miles. 

Incentivizing Drivers With Rewards

Employees like to receive recognition for their hard work. Those who regularly put in their best effort and advance the company’s goals deserve praise. One survey found that about 40% of employees did not feel recognized for what they did during the pandemic. COVID-19 has stretched fleet managers thin amid protocols and other challenges. 

One way to boost morale and improve fuel efficiency is by creating an incentive program. Fleet managers can use this tactic by tracking employee data and seeing who has performed the best and saved the most fuel per drive. Drivers who don’t rank highly can reflect on measures they can take to improve. Supervisors can reward the top workers with special privileges like monetary bonuses, gift cards or other prizes. 

Lightening the Load

There are a few ways drivers can benefit their managers by implementing fuel-efficient tactics. However, fleet managers can also take measures to set their drivers up for success. An excellent way to start is by monitoring the amount of weight on each vehicle used. 

Heavy vehicles have difficulty saving fuel. Most automobiles have gotten lighter over the years, but freight can still weigh down a fleet. Every 100 pounds of cargo reduces the miles per gallon by 1%. That can add up quickly on a long-haul truck. Fleet managers can encourage fuel efficiency by lowering cargo weight, removing unnecessary items and replacing drag in vehicles. 

Purchasing Fuel-Efficient Parts

Another way fleet managers can help their drivers save fuel is by changing particular vehicle parts to make them more aerodynamically efficient. Semi-trucks can weigh about 35,000 when empty, so every pound goes a long way. One way to improve aerodynamic efficiency is by installing drive wheel fairings, which reduce the distance between the wheels and the trailer. The reduced airflow lowers the amount of drag and enhances efficiency.

Managers can also install fairings on the rear to lower the amount of turbulence the trailer encounters. Employees can easily take them apart when unloading and reattach them when finished. Some fleets employ cab extenders and attach them to the cabin. They help the airflow and restrict the amount of crosswind that can affect drag and fuel efficiency. 

Getting Maintenance Checks 

Fleet managers can extend the life of their fleet by getting routine maintenance checks. These appointments increase fuel efficiency by ensuring all parts work at their peak level. Some of the  elements fleet owners should examine are:

  • Tires: Tires can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency. Fleet managers and drivers should track the PSI constantly and ensure it’s optimal for each tire. Underinflated tires compromise fuel mileage by about 0.2% for every pound dropped.
  • Air filter: Another maintenance point affecting fuel economy is the air filter. It will have difficulty with airflow once it traps debris and dirt from the road, resulting in lower efficiency. Fleet managers should regularly replace the air filter to improve fuel economy.
  • Engine: Engine tuneups are a necessity for fleets. Supervisors may see they need to replace the spark plugs or oxygen sensors when tuning the motor. Another way to help the engine is to upgrade the oil to a low-viscosity blend.

Creating Fuel-Efficient Drivers

Fuel costs are unpredictable and one of the largest expenses fleet managers have to deal with. They can mitigate costs by encouraging fuel-efficient driving habits. Small changes here and there can add up to significant savings in the long run.

trailers trailer

2021 Summer Insights for Owners

Summer is a “hot” season in more ways than one; high demand for certain vehicle specs presents an opportunity for fleet owners. Use this Summer Guide to analyze the seasonal trends based on historical rental demand and get insight into our predictions for this season. With these learnings, your business can decide which vehicles to keep a close eye on to make the maximum impact on your bottom line.

In this guide, we explore the year-to-year trends of our major markets nationwide. Plus, we’ll walk you through how your business can improve its vehicle utilization with the COOP platform this summer.

Summer Commercial Vehicle Rental Demand in 2021 

We project how the summer of 2021 will go based on rental metrics over the past 4 years. To meet the anticipated demand of seasonal commercial vehicle spec popularity, our COOP team recommends its Owners to consider the following:

Trailers to see steady long-term rentals. Both refrigerated and dry trailers see high demand this season for over-the-road rentals. In fact, in 2021 trailers are in very high demand and our business Owners that purchased trailers to list them full-time had up to 98% utilization on the COOP platform in May. 

Final-Mile vehicle rental demand will increase. We predict an increased need to rent vehicles for final-mile deliveries, which include Box Trucks as well as Sprinter Vans. Also, these vehicles will see an increase in rentals as Live Event and Restaurant, and Hospitality industries ramp up their activity and will be in need of extra capacity.

Expect Summer Business’ Rental Demand

We expect this summer season to have a strong tractor and trailer rental demand in June and July. Across our 9 active markets, companies have historically demanded medium- or heavy-duty rental vehicles for long hauls.

Industries that Need Rental Vehicles in the Summer

Over the summer, the Food & Beverage as well as Construction industries drive the bulk of rental demand. And many other businesses require additional fleet capacity this season. Even to the very end of the summer in August and September, we see vehicles picked up early for reservations that last through the holidays.

This season’s rental demand should keep the wheels moving on any Owner’s vehicle that can handle large cargo capacity. Flatbeds, 53’ trailers, and sleeper tractors are all predicted to see rentals from businesses that will require additional freight capacity for the long-term such as moving services, retail industry freight, and construction freight.

Increase in Refrigerated Vehicle Rentals

June through August is a great time for refrigerated vehicles. Compared to the rest of the year, refrigerated vehicles like refrigerated box trucks and reefer trailers typically see peak demand this season. During this time of year, we typically see an impressive 54% increase in demand for reefer vehicles. This demand is driven by events, entertainment, restaurants, and general hospitality companies that are sponsoring outdoor events and accommodating vacationers. Summer’s recreation creates rental demand for increased cold storage freight for food, beauty products, tobacco products, and even ice cream vending.

Long-Term Trailer Rentals

We anticipate that trailer vehicles will start to be rented long-term in June. Right now, the trailer market is seeing extremely high demand with companies urgently looking for availability — so COOP Owners can get them out earning money right away. The data shows that dry vehicles like trailers will continue to see the largest volume of rental days, which makes them a great asset to invest in the platform at any time. In the case of  Champion Trailer Solutions, the trailers they purchased to add to their fleet were rented out within 24 hours on COOP. And on average, trailers are rented for 23 days each rental during the summer on COOP. So for our Owners, this means reservations made in June right at the beginning of the summer season can last throughout the entire summer.

Final-Mile Rental Demand in the Summer

E-commerce continues to drive a need for final-mile deliveries. Dry trucks and day cabs are easily filled with delivery packages through the business and personal services industry. Approximately 75% of summer rental demand comes from day cab, dry truck, reefer truck, and van final-mile vehicles. It is a trend that saw a large bump during 2020. The microchip shortage that has stalled production for new vehicles has driven more renters to use the platform to fit their capacity needs. Owners should never let final-mile commercial vehicles sit idle when they could easily be rented out with COOP.

COOP Owner Tips to Generate Maximum Summer Revenue

Summer is a very competitive rental market that Owners can take advantage of by adapting their listings. Some ways Owners can do that are:

Keep vehicles available. Stay up-to-date as your business needs change. Popular summer picks like final-mile, reefers, and trailer vehicles are more likely to be rented if they are listed available at the beginning of the workweek.

Set a competitive daily rate. Make sure your rental rates are comparable to the rest of the market. Also, consider offering long-term rental discounts to make your listing more attractive to Renters and generate consistent revenue.

Promote your businesses. Use COOP’s tools to advertise your vehicles to companies in your network. They could be the ones who need to rent the vehicles that you have sitting.

With our platform, our technology, and our team’s expertise, your business has the tools to rent out your vehicles and generate revenue.


Is There a Shortage of Lithium-Ion Batteries?

The wider availability of electric vehicles has played a major role in getting more people interested in them. However, analysts warn that a lack of lithium-ion batteries could stifle the surge in electric vehicle adoption.

Here’s a closer look at the matter and some details about the possible associated issues that could affect fleet owners.

Rising Electric Vehicle Usage Causes Elevated Materials Demand

The electric vehicle has experienced recent success that seems unlikely to wane. For example, a global electric vehicle report confirmed there were 2.1 million electric vehicles sold in 2019, which surpassed the previous year’s numbers by 6%.

However, the interest in those automobiles has been far more long-term. The report clarified that there were only 17,000 of them on the world’s roads in 2010. The total soared to 7.2 million by 2019.

Another section of the report goes into the materials required to make batteries for electric cars. The cars sold in 2019 required an estimated 65 kilotons of nickel, 22 kilotons of manganese, 19 kilotons of cobalt, and 17 kilotons of lithium.

However, the report estimates those amounts will rise substantially by 2030 due to ongoing interest in electric vehicles. More specifically, it could increase to at least 925 kilotons of class I nickel, 185 kilotons of lithium per year, 180 kilotons of cobalt, and 177 kilotons of manganese.

A Heavy Dependence on Imports

Most analysts agree that there is not an immediate shortage of lithium-ion batteries, but concerned parties should respond quickly to mitigate the possible effects. One reality is that many nations, including the United States, rely heavily on China to supply battery materials.

A February 2021 executive order from The White House involves looking at current supply chain risks in the United States, then exploring measures to tackle those issues. Batteries were not the only goods mentioned in the document, but the content specified examining concerns associated with critical metals.

Estimates suggest that China accounts for between 70% and 77% of the world’s rare earth elements. Moreover, that country owns most of the processing facilities, even if the source material comes from other places.

As recently as 2019, people became particularly concerned about those realities when tensions rose between the U.S. and China due to a trade war. Experts suggest that building more battery factories in the U.S. is an actionable strategy for lessening the nation’s need for Chinese exports.

That approach would also mean the batteries could travel shorter distances. Shipping the batteries from overseas requires the appropriate risk mitigation strategies, such as transporting them in explosion-proof refrigerated containers.

Domestic manufacturing makes sense, but it’s also not a quick strategy. Since the anticipated lithium-ion battery shortage hasn’t happened yet, there’s still time to figure out what to do when it does. Building factories will likely become part of a multipronged strategy.

Electric Vehicles Make Sense for Fleet Owners, Study Suggests

Outside of the threat of a battery shortage, other factors may cause commercial fleet owners to balk at the prospect of upgrading to all-electric models. However, a recent Berkeley Lab study illustrated some of the potential payoffs.

For example, researchers used current battery cost data and calculated that an electric long-haul truck gives a 13% per-mile decrease in ownership costs compared to the same kind of vehicle that uses diesel. The team also confirmed that electric fleet owners could achieve a net savings of $200,000 over a truck’s lifespan.

They confirmed that aspects like battery price drops and more aerodynamic designs for commercial trucks could slash the per-mile ownership costs by as much as 50% by 2030. The researchers believe that a significant shift from diesel to electric-powered fleets would cause a major reduction in greenhouse gas and particulate matter associated with the transportation sector.

A Battery Shortage Could Increase Buyer Costs

Electric commercial vehicles are still in the minority. It could take a while before that changes, but adoption rates should rise as more decision-makers see examples of successful electric commercial vehicle usage.

Analysts point out that electric vehicles could become about $1,500 more expensive if nickel prices eventually reach a historic high of $50,000 per tonne, though. That possibility could discourage fleet owners if they don’t take overall cost reductions into account.

Elsewhere, a 2019 study of American adults found that 60% cited high upfront costs as a negative aspect of electric vehicle purchase. Relatedly, 84% did not know whether their state offers incentives to offset those buying decisions. Promoting the availability of such programs could make electric vehicles more attractive.

Manufacturers Grapple With Assorted Supply Chain Challenges

Recent coverage also indicates that dealing with lithium-ion battery shortages could be more complicated than it first seems. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lithium shortage, but rather a surplus. More specifically, Australia, which is among the top producers of lithium, has approximately double the number of mines now as in 2015.

However, certain places — such as the United States — have a lithium shortage compared to other nations. While the U.S. has small lithium deposits in California, they’re much smaller than those in South America and Australia.

A cobalt shortage is a more pressing concern, especially since most of it comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is one of the most expensive components in an electric vehicle battery, and research suggests there’s not enough mining and processing capability to meet growing demands for it. This example shows that a cobalt shortage could relate more to the capacity required to reach the resource rather than the scarcity of the material itself.

A Dramatic Scaling of Resources

Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America, noted that lithium-ion battery technology features in numerous consumer devices. However, it’s not at the level required for electric vehicles.

She pointed out that whereas a laptop battery has a dozen cells, one for an electric vehicle has thousands. “How do you quickly scale an industry by 100 times?” she asked, before clarifying, “You need more raw materials, the skilled talent, and machines to extract the raw materials, the factories to process the raw materials into cell components, and then the factories to turn those components into cells.”

A related issue is that the parts required for a car with an internal combustion engine are not the same as those for an electric automobile. Electric vehicles have fewer parts, and the differences mean that a manufacturer could not swiftly pivot to making them after formerly producing autos with engines.

A strategy deployed by companies like BMW and Volkswagen is to invest in battery technology companies. Doing that could give them better access to emerging technologies compared to competitors that didn’t provide such support. That could prove crucial for business models concerning batteries made with more widely available resources. Tesla took another approach by entering long-term agreements with suppliers. Such arrangements allow better pricing.

A Complex Matter

A lithium-ion battery shortage could affect consumers and manufacturers alike, albeit in different ways. The main takeaway for the present is that it’s not a current crisis but a looming one. Plus, there’s no single, straightforward way to tackle it.

Thus, fleet owners who are interested in future electric vehicle investments should plan for the possibility of increasing their budgets to accommodate increased upfront costs. Relatedly, it’s wise for them to stay abreast of the manufacturers that have taken proactive steps to cope with a future battery shortage. Planning now should reduce the possible ramifications later.


Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry.