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Vehicle Fleet Sustainability & Sustainable Fleet Management: What Goals to Set?

Sustainability is a huge concern, and if you’re a stakeholder in fleet management – you should be paying attention.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, fleets have four core principles to follow for sustainable fleet management and vehicle fleet sustainability. These are right-sizing fleets, minimizing miles traveled, increasing fuel efficiency, and using alternative fuels. These best practices help align your business with the growing awareness for issues such as climate change, better air quality, and lower emissions, and prepare for changing sustainability regulations from bodies such as those mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act.

If you’re looking to get ahead of the game, improve road safety and reduce environmental impact, the four core principles listed above are a great starting point for discussion. Here’s how you can launch a conversation around sustainability with these as your guide.

Right-sizing Fleets

This principle is about ensuring that you’re using the optimal number of vehicles and getting the best out of your fleet. This starts with visibility into the performance of your fleet, allowing you to identify the vehicles that are under-performing, which are unnecessary, and which are providing the best ROI in terms of costs and also environmental impact.

Consider tracking information such as user to vehicle ratio, the mileage of each vehicle, the hours of usage cross-referenced with mileage, how critical the vehicles are for their use, and the downtime of each vehicle on a granular level. Of course, you’ll need to consider your own policies and business requirements. In a taxi firm, for example, cars sitting idle for days out of the month could trigger elimination. In contrast, for a private ambulance firm, you may decide that the mission-critical nature of the vehicle dictates a different cost/benefit analysis.

Minimizing Miles Travelled

By improving scheduling and route management, you can minimize the miles traveled by your fleet, and make a real difference to your emissions and environmental impact. At the same time, smart scheduling and routing can have a quick and measurable association with reduced costs – making it easier to get executive buy-in for sustainability initiatives.

Examples of smart route management including sending alerts to drivers in real-time to offer assisted navigation that avoids diversions or construction works. As a fleet, you can also set master routes for drivers to follow, offering the quickest and most efficient way to manage a daily commute or a regularly repeated route. You can track vehicles by those which idle the most and see in real-time which go off route. On top of this, you can also react quickly to a situation – sending the closest possible driver to a customer location, eliminating extra miles traveled.

Increasing Fuel Efficiency

Setting up a playbook of best practices for your fleet can help to increase fuel efficiencies and let you do more with what you have. You may be surprised by the data that you can measure which has a real impact – such as tire pressure, aggressive driving such as irregular acceleration and braking, and excessive idling.

This can also go hand in hand with many of the other goals in your sustainability strategy. For example, tracking which vehicles are the least efficient can help with right-sizing fleets and eliminating those which are the least effective, or it might encourage an alternative fuel strategy such as onboarding new electric vehicles.

Using Alternative Fuels

Once you make a decision to move to alternate fuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel, ethanol or other flex-fuels, or even onboard hybrid or electric vehicles, you’ll want a plan in place to assess viability and measure impact. This can include measuring the typical driving patterns across your fleet including mileage, locations, and behavior, and ensuring you can utilize the right infrastructure.

For example, can you ensure your fleets have places to charge their EV batteries without increasing the miles driven on a regular route? These kinds of questions will help you to decide whether alternative fuels are operationally the right choice for your unique context and if these decisions will help you with your vehicle fleet sustainability goals.

Optimizing Your Vehicle Fleet Sustainability

Sustainability is an important goal for today’s fleets, but choosing the right route to sustainability maybe even more important – the difference between success and buy-in, and overall failure.

To understand more about how to set and achieve smart business goals for sustainable fleet management, including what connected vehicle data you can leverage to measure your success, download our ebook on The Challenges of a Sustainable Fleet Strategy and begin your strategy for your fleet sustainability.

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