SMALL businesses and SME company carfleets can save thousands of pounds a year on fuel costs if they follow fuel-saving driving techniques. This special report is filed by AA DriveTech.
ALTHOUGH the chancellor reduced fuel duty today in the Budget (from 6pm, 23 March, 2011), the average cost of a gallon of fuel will still be over £6 per gallon. So the profitability of businesses of all sizes is still being undermined by fuel costs at record levels.
A recent poll by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that most small companies will have to find an additional £2000 in revenue over the next six months just to accommodate rises in fuel costs.
Whilst the vehicle manufacturers have made huge strides in powertrain and aerodynamic efficiencies, it seems that their advances are somewhat blunted by most drivers’ lack of knowledge and technique. It’s hardly their fault though – concern about fuel economy has only become part and parcel of the driving test relatively recently and, although there is an abundance of fuel efficient driving advice about, it all seems a bit impractical to implement in everyday driving.
So, as a result, at AA DriveTech we have come up with three simple pieces of advice which should be easy to apply and effective in improving fuel consumption.
Three easy steps to better fuel consumption
- If your vehicle doesn’t have “Stop/Start” technology, deploy your own version. By looking well ahead in traffic or at lights you should be able to judge if you’re going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds. If you are, switch off. Modern starters, batteries and charging systems are quite able to cope with this regime once they are at running temperature.
- Find out where the engine’s “sweet spot” is (usually the point at which peak torque is being produced) and change up at that point. When overtaking, select a gear that enables you to use that “sweet spot” to best (and most efficient) advantage.
- “Block change” up the gearbox (1st, 3rd, 6th ) when circumstances allow, back off the throttle as much as you can to use the vehicle’s existing momentum to carry it forward, only use the brakes to slow down and don’t exceed the speed limit.
These techniques alone should result in the order of a 5% saving in fuel consumption but in truth they are really only a taster of what can be achieved as a result of a driver experiencing a professionally-run fuel economy course overseen by an experienced trainer.
We have something called Fuel Save 15. The product name alludes to the percentage of savings that should be achievable if all are applied correctly and the vehicle is in optimum condition.
AA DriveTech’s fleet director Paul Holmes puts the potential gains into perspective: “If you compare the cost of fuelling a 25 vehicle fleet between now and this time last year you could be looking at £91,364 now as opposed to £72,273 [25 vehicles @ 33mpg average; 20K miles p.a.; fuel @£1.05 per litre/£4.78 per gallon]. That’s a staggering 26% increase!
“If all those drivers completed a Fuel Save 15 course and continued to apply those techniques during every trip you could expect to claw back well over £12,500 worth of fuel cost. You have to sell a lot of products or services to generate profit of that magnitude.”