Committing to fuel efficiency

To run an effective fuel efficiency programme, management commitment is vital. This page outlines issues you should consider before you get started.

Benefits of fuel efficiency

There are many benefits to running a more fuel-efficient fleet.

  • Improved profit - fuel cost savings of up to10% are typical in fleets with a fuel efficiency programme.
  • Improved safety - safe driving and fuel-efficient driving are essentially the same. Both require drivers to observe and anticipate situations, manage speed and keep vehicles in good condition. Benefits include fewer infringements and lower maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Reduced emissions - improved fuel efficiency reduces a company's carbon footprint.
  • National benefits - better fuel efficiency reduces New Zealand's reliance on imported fuel, which is good for the economy and energy security. It also reduces national carbon emissions.

What affects fuel consumption

Fuel use is affected by a number of factors. Even if some are beyond your control, it's important to understand their influence on overall fuel consumption.

  • Staff - drivers have a major effect on fuel consumption. Understanding and influencing their daily activities is vital in managing fuel use. This covers recruitment, training, motivation and participation in your programme.
  • Vehicles - the key factors affecting fuel use are:
    • specification - gross vehicle weight, vehicle size, engine specification, engine power and torque, gearbox, final drive ratios
    • vehicle age
    • condition and maintenance - including tyre pressure and engine tuning
    • equipment and products used - such as lubricants, telematics and aerodynamics
    • body type - appropriate for the load.
  • Load - size and weight of the load affect fuel use.
  • Routes and traffic conditions.
  • Weather.

Starting your fuel efficiency programme

  1. Develop an action plan - establish costs and benefits at the beginning of your programme to help you set targets.
  2. Get senior management commitment - your programme is more likely to be successful if staff know the whole organisation is committed to it.
  3. Appoint a fuel champion - having one person who’s responsible for the programme provides a focal point and accountability. They must have authority to implement changes.
  4. Manage the effect on staff - a fuel management programme means culture change. Managers must support and encourage drivers while they learn new fuel-efficient skills and behaviours. Treat fuel usage as a manageable issue. Regularly talk about progress to drivers and managers.

Setting up your fuel efficiency programme

Example of payback

A fleet operator decided to invest in aerodynamic equipment for an articulated vehicle.
The capital cost per vehicle was $2,000 and the fuel used by the vehicle cost $50,000 per year. Tests showed an average 5% fuel saving through using the aerodynamic equipment.

  • Investment - aerodynamic equipment $2,000 including fitting.
  • Estimated fuel savings - $2,500 per year (5% of $50,000).
  • Payback period - 9.6 months (approximately).