5 best practices for fleet managers to reduce fuel spend

Gas prices can be unpredictable and change in an instant, but that doesn’t mean fleet managers are at the mercy of the prices at the pump when it comes to fuel spending. From introducing incentive programs to going under the hood to make optimizations to your fleet vehicles directly, there are good options for reducing fuel spend for your fleet without waiting for prices to drop.  

We’ve rounded up five best practices for fleet managers to reduce fuel spend through easy changes to their fleet operations. 

Reduce your fleet’s fuel spend in five easy steps 

1. Vehicle selection and rightsizing the fleet 

Choosing the right vehicles for your fleet is your first step to economical operations. Make an educated decision about your fleet vehicles by asking yourself the following questions before signing on the dotted line.     

Questions to ask when buying new fleet vehicles: 

  • Is the vehicle type the right one for your business? (Truck, van, sedan, etc.) 

  • Do you have a list of spec requirements? 

  • Do you need specific technology installed or the ability to integrate? 

  • Is the vehicle fuel-efficient? 

  • What is your budget? 

  • Are you buying or leasing? 

  • Are you using manufacturer incentives or going with a fleet dealer? 

  • Are there rebate programs available for your old fleet vehicles? 

  • Does the OEM offer upfitting packages or will you do that locally? 

  • Do you have a retailer that offers discounts on parts and service? 

  • How will new vehicles impact your insurance? 

Procurement is a part of any fleet, but it’s best to look at the big picture instead of just the price tag when it comes to buying new vehicles. 

If it’s not time to buy, you can always go the rightsizing route by removing assets that aren’t suitable for your business or are rarely used. Keep the vehicles that have a high fuel economy and are top-used vehicles in your fleet.   

2. Vehicle optimizations 

Did you know that engine idling can shorten the vehicle’s life and increase vehicle maintenance costs ? It also contributes to more than six billion gallons of fuel per year in the US at a cost of more than $20 billion. That data from the Clean Cities Coalition Network is an eye-opening reminder of how much fleets are spending on vehicles that aren’t even moving 

Through vehicle software upgrades, you can customize your vehicles’ engines to be mission-specific and fuel-efficient, and best of all, using the vehicles you already have.  Give your vehicles the power they need in acceleration, limit how much gas is used in idle, and utilize speed limiters to reduce fuel waste and keep your drivers safe. A report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found there can be a 30% fuel economy gap between the best and worst drivers, and excessive speeding contributes to more fuel use.  

3. Fuel cards 

Avoid fleet fraud by using fuel cards in your fleet operations. With fleet fuel cards, you have access to the transaction history, premium fuel spend , mileage, and fuel capacity violations. This helps keep a close eye on fuel spend and allows you to better forecast your fuel budget based on historical data.   

4. Driver behavior  

Along with fuel cards, many fleet managers focus on changing driver behavior behind the wheel. This can be done through driver training or introducing an incentive program that rewards good drivers. Encourage better driving habits through positive reinforcement or punitive, corrective measures after infractions,  and make sure every driver feels included in the program and has the opportunity to benefit from it.  

Things to consider for your fleet’s good driver incentive program: 

  • Frequency of rewards (monthly, quarterly, yearly) 

  • Type of rewards (gift cards, team lunches, additional benefit) 

  • Tracking and awarding (telematics data, employee nominations) 

  • Getting driver buy-in  

5. Preventative maintenance 

Get the most out of your telematics tools by being proactive when it comes to maintenance, instead of waiting for something to break. By keeping your fleet vehicles in perfect condition, you can reduce the power  and fuel needed for certain operations. Not only does this help reduce fuel needed, but also extends the life of your vehicles.   

There are options when it comes to tactics to reduce your fleet’s fuel spending, and many can be deployed in tandem to drive the savings even further. One thing we’ve found is that getting your drivers’ input and support by letting them help with the decision making can turn an initiative into a success, as everyone supports the route your fleet is going.   

Want to learn more about optimizing your current vehicles and enhancing your engines for better performance and fuel use? Download our guide to boosting your fleet’s fuel efficiency.