Some practical tips for fuel efficient driving

The current geopolitical climate has sent the price of fuel worldwide soaring, with oil prices up from $80 per barrel at the end of 2021 to around $115 per barrel this month, and some analysts predicting that continued disruption could cause further increases to as high as $200 per barrel. As you might expect, these increases are passed directly through to drivers, with fuel prices in most countries increasing by 30-40% since the turn of the year.

This financial pressure combines with the environmental impact to further strengthen the business case for companies worldwide to proactively incentivise more efficient driving among their workforce. As Peter Golding, the Managing Director of FleetCheck in the UK, told Fleet News: “With fuel prices having risen exponentially, businesses are going to have to mitigate rising costs through more effective management.”

So, without further ado, here are Brightmile’s top 8 tips for fuel efficient driving:

  1. Don’t leave route planning to chance

Planning routes in advance can cut mileage and fuel consumption. It also has the potential to save time and allow for more tasks to be completed in a day, increasing productivity. There are many options in terms intelligent routing software available.

  1. Revisit maintenance schedules

Fuel efficiency can be improved by regular maintenance, such as making sure oil changes are done at the recommended intervals and by using the appropriate grade of motor oil. It’s also worth checking vehicle suspensions for misalignment as this can affect fuel consumption and vehicle downtime. Likewise, regular inspections can highlight worn parts and corrosion, which can cause the alternator to work harder, increasing fuel consumption. 

  1. Keep tyres properly inflated

When tyres are underinflated there’s increased friction with the road surface, which has a knock-on effect on fuel consumption. As such, it’s becoming increasingly important to check tyres regularly. Don’t be tempted to overcompensate though, when tyre pressure is too high they’re more susceptible to wear, tear and blowouts. Remind drivers that tyres should be checked at least once a month.

  1. Don’t let engines idle

Letting the engine idle is arguably the biggest waste of fuel that’s easily fixed. A car engine will use fuel in a restart, but only the equivalent to approximately 10 seconds of idling. Encouraging drivers to switch off the engine can have a large impact. 

  1. Use ‘Eco mode’

Many modern vehicles have the option to switch to ‘eco mode’. This means that if you push hard on the accelerator, you won’t suddenly surge forwards. Instead, it will operate within the constraints programmed by the manufacturer to alter the fuel and air intake to create a better mixture for efficiency. These adjustments do affect responsiveness and power, so if driving uphill or if you need quick acceleration, it’s best to switch it off. However, if travelling in urban conditions with little need to accelerate fast it can cut fuel consumption by 3-10%. 

  1. Remove excess weight

Each and every pound that vehicles have to transport requires energy. How many drivers use their vehicles for semi-permanent storage? How many carry round samples or bits of kit that they only need once every six months. Something as simple as reminding drivers to have a good clear out and to only carry what’s necessary could have a significant impact on corporate fuel bills.

  1. Monitor and reward an ecological driving style

Recent research has revealed that eco-driving is capable of reducing fuel consumption by an amount ranging from 15% to 25% and Greenhouse Gas emissions by at least 30%, as determined by the following key factors:

  • Speeding 

  • Harsh acceleration

  • Harsh braking

  • Switching to a lower gear to reduce speed

Once monitored, clearly communicate and reward strong performance, for example some firms have set up an ‘MPG league’ where the highest MPG achieved is rewarded.

  1. Switch to cleaner fuels

It seems certain that electric vehicles will play a major role in the future of fleets and while it may be a longer-term goal for many, there could be opportunities to electrify or hybridize short-haul or medium-weight vehicles as part of your normal replacement cycle.

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