The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is at a record high across the world and company vehicle operators are under increasing pressure to include environmental considerations in their management decisions.
One of the pressures put on businesses to reduce vehicle emissions is the Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax imposed on company cars and free private fuel, based on vehicle CO2 emissions. Congestion charging in London and road tolls also penalise drivers of vehicles with high CO2 emissions.
Here are some actions you can take to reduce the environmental impact of your fleet.
Assess the current environmental impact of your fleet
Start by assessing the current carbon footprint of your fleet based on the overall fuel consumption and set targets for reducing the amount. Create, develop or review any corporate social responsibility or environmental policies to ensure they consider the environmental impact of your fleet.
Review vehicle choice lists
Encourage a change in driver behaviour by removing the worst performing vehicles from your fleet. Apply a minimum MPG and maximum CO2 limits to the vehicles on the choice list. Provide information to drivers on the environmental impact of vehicles which will allow them to make informed choices.
Consider fuel choices – diesel or petrol based on operating conditions of your fleet. Petrol engine technology has enabled manufacturers to produce small engines with lower CO2 and higher MPG and are therefore as cost efficient as their diesel counterparts.
Exemptions apply to certain alternative fuel vehicles in the London congestion zone and similar discounts are likely to apply in other proposed road user charging schemes.
Reduce fuel consumption
Improving your fleet’s fuel performance is important for the environment and makes sound commercial sense, as fuel costs may account for 20% or more of total operating costs.
Driver behaviour has a major impact on fuel efficiency. Encourage drivers to drive more smoothly without aggressive braking or acceleration and by choosing appropriate gears. Advise drivers to use air conditioning only when needed because it can add 15% to fuel consumption. Drivers should remove unnecessary weight from vehicles (e.g. roof boxes, golf clubs and other luggage unnecessarily left in the boot) and always check and maintain correct tyre pressures.
Efficient route planning can help drivers avoid congestion, therefore consider providing satellite navigation. Drivers should be encouraged to allow sufficient time for journeys to reduce the need for speeding to get to appointments. The amount of road travel can be further reduced through the use of teleconferencing, video conferencing or rail travel.
You could offer employees a range of incentives to car share, e.g. reserving well located parking spaces.
Maintain your vehicles
Ensuring vehicles are properly maintained has financial, health and safety and environmental benefits including reducing fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. A properly maintained and serviced vehicle can improve fuel economy, so manufacturer’s recommendations on servicing should be followed.
Incorrect tyre pressure can reduce tyre life by approximately 25% and increase fuel consumption by up to 2.5%.
Improving employees’ driving techniques can reduce accidents, maintenance costs (tyre and brake wear) and vehicle damage recharges. Repairing vehicles after accidents causes waste, both financially and environmentally from spare parts, oil, and workshop resources.
All accidents should be investigated and reviewed with drivers and driver training should be implemented where appropriate. Your fleet policy should include a target for the reduction of accidents
Review cash allowances
Government research indicates drivers opting out of company cars typically move to a vehicle with 20g/km worse CO2 performance. Review the options you offer for cash allowances and incentivise the choice of efficient vehicles. Increase / decrease allowances based on vehicle choice (using CO2 emissions and fuel economy performance as benchmarks).
Monitor performance and market development
Improving the environmental performance of your fleet should reduce operating costs. Monitor savings, measure fuel consumption, carbon reduction and accident rate improvements. Benchmark drivers against key performance indicators such as MPG, tyre wear and licence points.
Successful cost reductions should be publicised to employees, shareholders and in general PR stories. Drivers should be rewarded for demonstrating cost savings or good practice.
Although preferential to reduce the amount of carbon emissions, your company may want to additionally investigate carbon-trading options. Emissions can be offset through investment into forestation, alternative energy projects or other carbon reduction projects.
Keep a close watch on technological advances in vehicles such as improved engine efficiency, alternative fuels development and new vehicle design.
Any updates to your fleet policy designed to improve your environmental impact should be communicated to drivers and you should gain signed acceptance of new policy from them where applicable.
The advantages of making your fleet greener could be reduced vehicle and fuel costs, increased productivity and improved company image. Your drivers benefit from reduced driving hours, and safer driving techniques and the benefits to the environment are reduced traffic levels, lower emissions and safer roads.