The specter of what high fuel prices can do to the bottom line of a company’s fleet is really no longer just a thought – it’s happening right now. And despite the occasional drop in price here and there, it is likely that world demand for fossil fuels will increase, meaning… higher prices as we continue to move forward.

On the bright side, it turns out that there are lots of things that fleet managers can do to limit the effect of those prices on their bottom line.

Some notable companies with large fleets are electing to update vehicles, or are making the ones that they have more fuel efficient with new technologies.  While certainly effective in the long run, those moves require some substantial short term capital expenditures.

Another example of some fleet-fuel-tackling-thought-process is Southwest Airlines, operators of the largest fleet of 737s in the world (sure, they’re not trucks, but they still use huge amounts of fuel). They predicted the rapid rise in fuel prices and forward bought the commodity in 2001.  Great move on their part, but again, it took a fair amount of money to make that advanced purchase, and it wasn’t without its share of risk.

So, what can a budget strapped fleet manager do to lower the effect of increasing fuel costs with minimum risk?

Enter Polk County Florida government fleet manager Bob Stanton.  Bob decided that although updating their vehicles was a great idea, he simply didn’t have the budget.  He would have to save money on fuel another way, and he did it through changing his drivers’ behavior on the road with a series of techniques that are commonly referred to as Ecodriving.

Did it work?

Like a charm – it worked well enough to let him reward his drivers and think about buying some new vehicles.

The best part of the entire program for Bob is that it required a much smaller investment for him than buying a bunch of new product, or even updating the product he had.

He was able get 11% fuel savings just from changing how his drivers drove their vehicles. Ecodriving – its easy to implement, inexpensive to maintain, has sustainability, and it’s proven.


About Mike Speck

Lead facilitator and Master Ecodriving trainer for Ecodriving Solutions.
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