July 5, 2016

Businesses can meet their corporate objectives with an eco-friendly fleet

Green fleet management can lower costs, motivate employees and cut the carbon footprint

UK businesses that want to deliver cost savings, improve employee motivation and reduce their environmental impact should consider implementing a green fleet policy that leads to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable fleet.

A carefully thought through green fleet management policy, typically in line with the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy, can deliver the levels of savings that companies are seeking and cut the corporate carbon footprint into the bargain.

And a carefully structured approach to eco-fleet management and vehicle selection can lay the foundations for a greener fleet which not only delivers lower costs all-round, but also provides significant motivation for employees.

Formulating a green fleet policy

In formulating a sustainable fleet management policy, care should be taken to ensure that the parameters of the policy are not too restrictive in specifying the choice of vehicles available to employees.

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The company car is still a key motivational tool in the eyes of many, and the implementation of a green fleet policy with too little choice could have the unwanted consequence of de-motivating employees rather than encouraging them.

Thankfully, more and more vehicle manufacturers are producing ‘green’ models and low emission variants with reduced levels of carbon dioxide and other emissions. There are now several thousand such models on the market, so finding the right choice for the fleet should be less problematic than previously.

Power train choice is key

Specifying that all vehicles should be powered by a single energy source, be it petrol, diesel, bio-fuel, LPG, electric or hybrid, is not necessarily the right way forward in building a sustainable fleet policy.

Instead, analysis should be carried out of the journey profile of the fleet and consideration given to the attributes of different methods of propulsion and their related benefits.

Then, fleet managers should look at specifying the most appropriate type of power train to meet the needs of the various elements of the fleet.

For example, it may be that diesel vehicles are perfect for long distance business travel, perhaps for the sales force or service engineers, while petrol engined or electric cars are more suitable for shorter journeys, dependent upon the infrastructure in place.

For instance, for those who do the majority of their mileage in our major conurbations, hybrid or electric powered vehicles may be the most appropriate solution.

A radical overhaul of the fleet policy involving the latest low emission vehicles can deliver significant reductions in emissions and lower costs. But it should not be introduced at the expense of driver dissatisfaction and reduced operational performance.

The requirements of different business stakeholders also need to be taken into consideration if the end users, the company drivers, are to buy in to the change.

Green fleet

Delivering the needs of the business

The secret to success in green fleet management is to ensure that fleet policy delivers the needs of the business efficiently and effectively.

As a consequence, the most successful fleet policies adopt a ‘technologically agnostic’ approach, aiming to provide the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles which are right for the job.

Choosing the right low-CO2 emitting vehicles on the basis of ‘fitness for purpose’ will not only result in significant cost savings, but also avoid having to radically review fleet policy every time a significant advance in technology is brought to market.

While optimising vehicle choice to gain stakeholder and driver buy-in, organisations should at the same time aim to influence driver behaviour to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce accident costs and downtime.

Eco-driving training courses can teach drivers how to drive in a more environmentally friendly and responsible manner to conserve fuel and reduce costs. The introduction of in-vehicle telematics can also help in the identification of driver behaviours that require remedial attention, as well as excessive or inappropriate speeding.

The fleet policy should also seek to minimise non-productive business mileage and encourage use of public transport and car sharing where appropriate.

Choosing the right vehicles

Before finalising the vehicle choice list, it is important to undertake detailed research of the available vehicles that meet the fleet policy criteria. That means setting clear cost, fuel economy, performance, technical and qualitative evaluation criteria before making the final vehicle selection.

Detailed analysis also needs to be carried out when considering alternative power trains and new vehicle technology, and ensuring that they are being chosen for the right reasons.

For example, adopting electric vehicles for short city journeys may make sense but providing them for a national sales team probably would not, given the current lack of an adequate nationwide recharging infrastructure and low mileage range between recharges.

However, with the use of car park charging points and home charging overnight, electric vehicles may be perfectly adequate for the daily commute to the office.

Engaging with stakeholders

The buy-in of potential stakeholders to proposed new vehicles is key to making your green fleet management policy work.  An employee who resents having a particular vehicle can quickly manage to make even a clean, efficient vehicle perform inefficiently.  A badly driven ‘green’ vehicle can prove a bigger polluter than a carefully driven petrol or diesel car.

Gaining the early buy-in of drivers to a new green fleet policy will make the objectives easier to achieve. Employees should also be made aware of any financial savings available to them, especially from a tax point of view – low CO2 emitting cars will reduce Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax bills and cut private fuel costs.

If you would like to discuss how to put together a green fleet management policy for your fleet, please get in touch.