HomeResourcesBlogHow to Achieve Better Commercial Vehicle Fuel Efficiency
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How to Achieve Better Commercial Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

By Verizon Connect July 28, 2022

Fuel represents approximately 60% of a fleet’s total operating costs..1 And since fuel prices in North America continually fluctuate, and most commercial vehicle drivers average 20,000 miles per year,2 the large impact that fuel expenditures can have on a company’s bottom line is reason enough to pursue commercial vehicle fuel efficiency.

In addition, there are other factors—like environmental initiatives and fuel efficiency standards—for fleets to consider. The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will increase the stringency of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and CO2 emissions standards by 1.5% each year through 2026.3 Reducing mileage and increasing fuel efficiency can go a long way toward reducing a fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions while realizing fuel cost savings.

What counts as a commercial vehicle?

In the United States, a truck or car is considered a commercial vehicle when it is registered or titled to a business or carries more than 15 passengers. This broad definition can include:

  • Passenger cars
  • Pickup trucks
  • Light duty vehicles
  • Light trucks

For the trucking industry, commercial trucks (or CMVs) are classified based on gross vehicle weight rating and includes:

  • Heavy duty trucks
  • Tractor trailers

The drive to offset fuel costs

Any increase in fuel prices can drastically impact overhead operating costs and profitability, especially for truck fleets operating heavy duty vehicles. To achieve fuel efficiency and offset costs, fleet vehicles ideally want to use the least amount of fuel possible over distance traveled. Even small cutbacks in fuel usage can have a big impact and improve commercial vehicle fuel efficiency.

Organizations concerned with improving fuel efficiency often focus on operating recent model year vehicles, which tend to have better aerodynamic performance, higher MPG ratings and more fuel-efficient systems1. To bolster overall average fuel economy, fleets can make a concerted effort to eliminate older, less fuel efficient and higher mileage vehicles.4

Another way to improve fleet energy efficiency is to invest in alternative fuel vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and plugin EVs when older vehicles are up for replacement and renewal.

However, if new vehicles are out of the question, fleets can invest in next-generation GPS tracking technology that lets managers and owners track fuel usage and the many factors that can impact fleet fuel economy, including driver training and behavior, vehicle maintenance and route optimization.

Download this free guide to find out how you can increase fuel efficiency and bring cut costs.

Leveraging technology to help achieve better fleet fuel efficiency

Investing in telematics technology can help organizations better understand where fleet vehicles are going, the routes they’re taking and where opportunities for fuel consumption reductions exist. Modern technologies can be especially helpful in keeping on top of areas that might not seem related to fuel economy standards but can have a substantial impact on efficiency and cost reduction.

  • Driving Behavior: According to an article in Automotive Fleet, up to 30% of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is impacted by driver behavior, and every unnecessary gallon of diesel burned by a truck creates 22.1 pounds of CO2. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking can also lower fuel economy by 33% in highway driving and 5% in urban driving.2 

Using telematics to monitor driver behavior and help managers coach actions that have a negative impact on fuel efficiency can help organizations save on fuel and better adhere to environmental emissions standards. For instance, telematics can be used to detect and record vehicle speeds and compare them against posted speed limits. Fleet managers can also set speed parameters and receive automatic alerts about any speeding events. 

  • Idle Times: Engine idling can waste as much as one gallon of fuel per hour. Owners and managers can use telematics technology to identify where excessive idling is an issue and help curb fuel waste by receiving detailed reports about unnecessary idling incidents, including:
    • Warming up the engine longer than necessary
    • Leaving the engine running during stops or deliveries
    • Keeping the engine running to operate radios or in-vehicle equipment 
  • Routing & Dispatching: Increasing fuel efficiency comes down to shorter routes and better-informed drivers. Telematics systems can help improve route optimization and make it easy to identify drivers engaging in routing behaviors that decrease MPG.1

To help drivers make informed route choices, telematics provides integrated navigation with critical information that helps reduce mileage while en route, including:

  • Near real-time road network updates (storm/weather closures)
  • Yard approaches and yard exits
  • Configurable “Out of Corridor” alerting
  • Company-specific points of interest to support the use of preferred fueling locations

Managers can set the best schedules and routes by considering the following key factors:

  • Driver and vehicle availability
  • Frequency of visits
  • Customer requests and SLAs
  • Loading and unloading 
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Making sure fleet vehicles receive regular maintenance can keep fuel costs down over time and keeping an engine tuned up can help increase gas mileage. Telematics systems can alert fleet managers when vehicles are due for maintenance based on date, mileage, or engine alerts.  

When it comes to maintenance that supports optimal fuel economy, these are important points to keep in mind:

    • Maintain proper tire inflation pressure and check tire wear
    • Replace fuel filters at the proper intervals
    • Keep all axles aligned to reduce rolling resistance
    • Repair any vehicle body damage
    • Use recommended grades of motor oil 
  • Spend tracking: Tracking fuel card usage is great way to help reduce costs. Telematics technology helps fleet managers monitor each vehicle’s fuel usage and identify fraudulence by comparing fuel card use to the actual location of the vehicle. In addition, it can help detect any abnormalities when compared against vehicle averages and provide fuel card integration to help with cost reconciliation. Telematics can also help managers understand where fleet vehicles are fueled and at what price in relation to fuel prices in the surrounding area.

For more information on how Verizon Connect can help your fleet achieve enhanced fuel efficiency to offset costs and help protect the environment, look at this handy guide

1 https://www.automotive-fleet.com/343217/operating-costs-inch-up-for-second-consecutive-year

2 https://www.automotive-fleet.com/347989/how-driver-behavior-impacts-fuel-consumption

3 https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/safer-affordable-fuel-efficient-safe-vehicles-final-rule

4 https://www.automotive-fleet.com/346725/containing-fuel-spend-is-a-top-fleet-focus-despite-price-stability

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Fuel cost management

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