Spiraling gas prices are making fleet GPS tracking a more attractive option for managers looking to cut costs and protect margins.
Retail pump prices are up 11.5 percent nationwide over last year, and February 2011 was itself a national record. On the West Coast, the March 12 average was a staggering $4.22 per gallon, while the nationwide average was $3.83, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Economists expect the national price average to surge well past $4 per gallon during the summer heavy driving season. Yes – things will be getting worse.
Fleet GPS devices save fuel costs through reductions in idling, speeding, harsh braking/acceleration, and continuous vehicle diagnostic monitoring.
“A lot of business owners are surprised when they see just how much fuel is wasted through inefficient and unsafe driving and behavior,” said Paul Milazzo, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Driver’s Alert. “Then, they’re even more surprised when they see how much they can save, what kind of reports they can run and what they can do with the units. Fuel is really just an entry point.”
By the numbers:
Idling can burn anywhere from one-quarter to one-half gallon of gas per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use. With the AC on, and assuming prices of $3.51/gallon, that can cost at least $.02 or $.03 per minute.
Speeding: Besides being an inherent safety risk, every 5 mph driven above 60 mph in an average vehicle (let alone a heavy truck) adds an additional 8 percent to the cost of each gallon of fuel, the U.S. Department of Energy has found.
Because many fleet GPS units hook up to the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic port, the units continuously transmit information about engine health and other metrics. That can provide instant information if there’s a problem with your engine or a fault code throws. Managers can prevent and anticipate vehicle wear and tear, schedule maintenance reminders and extend the useful life of parts. And, hopefully, spot small problems before they grow large and costly.
It’s difficult to put a round number on this benefit. One manufacturer, Geotab, has estimated savings of 5 percent on total vehicle running costs. For light-duty vehicles, that cost is typically $.50 per mile. For large trucks, it’s usually cost about $1 per mile.