‘Self-help’ tactics will cut commercial vehicle costs and CO2 emissions

3 ban on diesel vehicles, ban on diesel vans, air quality plan.

Technological advances from commercial vehicle manufacturers often steal the limelight in cutting emissions and fuel bills, but fleets can take a ‘self-help’ approach to further reductions with telematics, new fuels and ‘right-sizing’ vehicles.

Most telematics systems make data available on fuel and CO2 monitoring, driver behaviour, vehicle diagnostics including maintenance alerts, location tracking and geo-fencing.

As a result, telematics is no longer being billed as a ‘nice to have’ solution for commercial vehicle fleet operators, but a ‘have to have’.

Mark Lovett, head of commercial vehicles at LeasePlan UK, says: “Driver training and telematics can help minimise the impact that commercial vehicles have on the environment.

“Avoiding harsh braking and accelerating makes a huge difference, and telematics can help fleet managers effectively target corrective driver training.”

Travis Perkins operates 4,000 commercial vehicles and introduced telematics five years ago. The benefits have included:

■ Almost 400 vehicles cut from the commercial vehicle fleet – virtually all trucks – as a consequence of improved vehicle utilisation, delivering operating cost savings of more than £50,000 per year per HGV removed.

■ A 70% daily reduction in vehicle idling – the average vehicle spent more than 100 minutes per day idling, wasting up to three litres of diesel.

■ Major fuel savings – and therefore emission savings – as a result of improved journey route planning and scheduling and employees’ adopting a smoother driving style.

Graham Bellman, Travis Perkins group fleet director, says: “The cost of the system was paid for by the fuel savings. Everything else has been a bonus and delivered savings totalling millions of pounds year-on-year to the company’s bottom line. It’s important that fleet decision-makers embrace technology.”

“Driver training and telematics can help minimise the impact that commercial vehicles have on the environment”
Mark Lovett, Leaseplan

Like Travis Perkins, O’Donovan Waste Disposal has achieved significant savings on fuel usage. As a London-based construction waste management company, it also uses telematics to reduce its environment impact.

Managing director Jacqueline O’Donovan says: “Fleets can use technology to make a massive difference to their environmental performance, which will deliver important benefits when it comes to reducing emissions.”

The company has invested £80,000 installing a telematics system across its 85-strong HGV fleet. O’Donovan says operating in London “we have to take great care when route planning and monitoring driver behaviour to reduce our impact on the environment”.

The system enables the company to monitor driver behaviour – including speeding, harsh braking or cornering, and idling – in real-time and thus identify training requirements to improve efficiency. As a result, the number of such events has dropped by 25% over 10 months, delivering time and fuel savings.

O’Donovan adds: “When working on a specific job, we pull together a site logistics plan to ensure that the safest and most effective route to and from sites is used and, where possible, consolidate deliveries and collections so fewer journeys are needed. Through this and our driver education programme, we have managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 21.5% per km travelled between 2012/13 and 2013/14, and our HGV idling by 50% since 2010.”

“On average, diesel delivery vans are only half-full driving to the centre of a city and going to the same places. We consolidate deliveries that are going to the same place”
Sam Clarke, Gnewt Cargo

Gary Banister, national account manager for Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, says that fleets can  use the most efficient route from a cost, time and CO2 perspective  by carefully analysing journeys through the use of telematic. This not only reduces costs, but also minimises their impact on the environment.

“Telematics will also help fleets plan journeys in advance, as they are able to determine whether multiple vehicles are absolutely necessary, especially when jobs are in close proximity to each other,” Banister adds.” Precise planning of routes is especially important for large vans and HGVs, which may be restricted by the roads they can use.”

Lovett also highlights how vehicle diagnostic reports delivered via telematics systems enable fleet operators to plan maintenance schedules that correspond to real-time vehicle health status.

Freight Transport Association (FTA) figures suggest there are 1.2 million unroadworthy vans on UK roads and Lovett says: “Existing commercial vehicles’ emissions can be managed by seeking regular services. Unroadworthy vans usually record higher emissions than their well maintained counterparts.”

Mark Lovett, Leaseplan

Mark Lovett, head of
commercial vehicles at
LeasePlan UK: 'Telematics
can help fleet managers
effectively target
corrective driver training.'

Manufacturers also deserve some credit in the area of telematics as a growing number have introduced their own systems for vans.

Citroën has offered fleets a telematics solution for years that includes satellite navigation as well as optional, Fleet Director real-time fleet management services. It says the technology has been fitted to more than 100,000 vans.

Ford and Volkswagen have recently launched telematics solutions to fleet operators that are claimed to be compatible with almost any vehicle in the market.

Kevin Rendell, head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK, says: “Running a cost-effective fleet is crucial to maintaining a profitable business, which is why more and more companies are investing in telematics to help manage their fleets. Our telematics system can help companies reduce fuel costs, extend the life span of parts and components, and optimise vehicle efficiency.”

Ford claims its real-time telematics system, operated by Telogis, will improve fleet efficiency and cut total ownership costs for businesses. These include potential fuel cost reductions of up to 20% from optimised vehicle usage and driving routes and improved driving behaviour.

Speed limiters

Another fuel-saving tactic adopted by fleet operators is to fit speed limiters. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) calculates that driving at 70mph uses 9% more fuel than at 60mph and driving at 80mph uses 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.

Clancy Group, which operates 140 HGVs and 1,100 LCVs, has introduced telematics across its fleet, but has also fitted car-derived vans with speed limiters governed to 70 mph and other light commercial vehicles limited to 62 mph. It introduced speed limiters almost four years ago and saved around £300,000 in the first 12 months.

Alternative fuels

Go Ultra Low, the collaborative campaign by the motor industry and the Government to encourage businesses to operate ultra-low-emission vehicles, says commercial vehicle operators and fleet managers are missing out on a share of more than £2.6 billion in potential fuel savings.

Nearly half of the 3.7 million vans on UK roads could tap in to the typical saving of £1,459 per vehicle per year from using an electric van in place of an equivalent diesel vehicle (based on 20,000 miles a year using CAP Automotive data).

Go Ultra Low claims that millions of operators run small and medium-sized vans as back-to-base or short-haul vehicles, a duty cycle perfectly suited to pure-electric vans, such as the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo Van Z.E., or a plug-in hybrid, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work.

The Low Emission Van Guide

The Low Emission
Van Guide, published by
the Low Carbon Vehicle
Partnership (click image
for more)

Plug-in commercial vehicles do not meet all fleets’ requirements due to range and payload constraints. Gnewt Cargo – an acronym for Green New Transport – is aiming to change “last-mile logistics” globally with what is claimed to be the world’s largest single city-based fleet of pure electric vehicles.

The business uses about 100 electric vehicles to deliver parcels in central London on behalf of a wide range of organisations. However, it has plans to launch across the UK and worldwide, with a hub in Oxford due to open this summer.

Director and co-founder Sam Clarke says: “On average, diesel delivery vans are only half-full driving to the centre of a city and going to the same places. We consolidate

deliveries that are going to the same place.”

There are about 460,000 HGVs in the UK and new research by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership suggests diesel’s virtual complete market domination as a fuel – there are about 1,000 dual-fuel (diesel and methane) trucks over 18 tonnes GVW and 100 electric trucks under 18 tonnes GVW – will gradually fade to 20% by 2050. It anticipates methane taking a 40% share, with electric and hydrogen 20% each.

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