The trucking industry continues to battle a number of challenges, including rising equipment costs and a shortage of drivers in some areas. But no challenge has been harder than finding a way to manage fleet fuel costs driven higher by worldwide inflation.
While prices seem to have peaked in mid-summer, that doesn’t mean they will not rise again. A war in Europe and supply chain issues have contributed to rampant inflation worldwide, giving fleets a major obstacle in controlling operational costs. Innovative telematics give fleet managers another tool to use when developing their strategy to combat increased fuel costs.
While fleet managers can follow strategies to improve fleet fuel consumption, technology can boost their efforts even further.
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Worldwide Events Drive Fuel Prices Higher
In a recent State of Freight webinar, officials with freight forecasting firm FTR talked about inflation’s impact on the economy. FTR CEO Eric Starks said that during “crazy times for the economy,” the decision by Russia to invade Ukraine has impacted fleets everywhere. “Much of the inflationary pressure is global, not due to the U.S. economy,” Stark said.
Many countries have spurned Russian oil, removing a major source of oil from global markets and driving up costs. However, Stark said recent reports have contained some good news for fleets. For example, while the Consumer Price Index rose 9 percent in June 2022 (compared to June 2021), the Core CPI – which excludes food and energy costs – is starting to drop.
In the meantime, the cost of diesel fuel increased 68 percent over 2021 prices at one point during the summer, according to ABC.
Ways to Manage Fleet Fuel Costs
Advanced telematics systems offer a variety of fleet fuel solutions that can help fleets better control what they spend on fuel. These solutions include the best fuel cards available and the ability to analyze fuel consumption by vehicle, driver, and routes, allowing managers to identify areas where they can make changes to increase fuel efficiency.
Some systems, such as Derive, allow fleets to automatically take control of their vehicles and optimize how they operate on the road. They help drivers stay compliant with company policies and cut down on bad drivers.
In-cab software systems such as Vnomics allow fleets to coach drivers on behind-the-wheel actions that reduce fuel use. These include excessive idling, which can burn a quarter gallon of fuel per hour, and aggressive driving that leads to a higher fuel burn rate. This includes speeding, sudden stops and too many lane changes. Drivers also are taught to maintain proper tire pressure, an important way to control the amount of fuel a vehicle uses.
Fuel cards represent one of the best approaches to controlling fuel costs. These cards allow fleet managers to control when and where drivers purchase fuel. Fuel card controls provide a higher level of security, requiring a driver ID/PIN to make fuel purchases. These cards give managers a greater ability to track and control fuel expenses.
In their daily battle to manage fleet fuel costs, managers face plenty of challenges, especially in an inflationary environment. The fleet fuel solutions offered by innovative telematics devices and systems support their efforts to keep fuel costs contained.