The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Fleets Implement New Policies to Lower Fuel Costs

May 2008, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

As fleets continue to deal with rising fuel costs, companies are increasingly implementing policies and programs to get a handle on the bottom line.

Measures integrated into fleets include right-sizing vehicles, buying more fuel-efficient models, reducing idling time, implementing fuel card programs, and adopting GPS systems to minimize fraud and improve driver efficiency.

Otis Gets a Handle on Fuel Costs Through Diesel Implementation

Otis Elevator Company recently implemented fuel management initiatives to mitigate the high cost of fuel.

“We’ve replaced about 25 percent of our high-mileage trucks with diesel vehicles, increasing mileage by 30 percent as compared to gasoline,” said Phil Schreiber, fleet manager, North America.

The fleet team was also able to keep the vehicles for four years versus two.

“Our formula suggested that our vehicles needed at least 25,000 business miles per year to even look at a diesel engine,” Schreiber said. This extended mileage limit is due to the high premium paid for diesel engines, which increases capitalization cost.

Eighty-two percent of the company’s 4,000 fleet vehicles are Fords (ranging from the four-door sedan up to 26,000-lb. GVW truck models). The remaining fleet makeup includes GM models (at 16 percent) and other assorted makes and models.

While greening its fleet is more difficult at Otis due to the dispersion of its vehicles throughout the country, cost-to-benefit ratios, and size of vehicles, the company is willing to monitor fuel availability infrastructure updates in the future.

ServiceMaster Reduces Fuel Costs and Environmental Impact

ServiceMaster currently serves 10.5 million U.S. residential and commercial customers through a network of more than 5,500 company-owned locations and franchised licenses. With more than 18,000 corporate-managed vehicles, the company must keep its fleet on the road serving customers, while effectively managing its bottom line.

The company has implemented several best practices to control costs. And its fleet team is currently pilot-testing a way to eliminate unnecessary engine idling with onboard electric power and an electronic shutoff system, as well as testing hybrid vehicle applications to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

Recently, the team, in conjunction with Wanner Engineering and the AutoTruck Group, redesigned two Terminix trucks and reduced the purchasing cost by more than 18 percent for the pest control truck and more than 60 percent for the termite truck.

“Reducing environmental impact is critical and strategic for any company and fleet, but in particular for residential customer services companies such as the ServiceMaster family of companies,” said Fleet Engineering Director Jim Steffen.

ServiceMaster has also realized substantial savings through rebates and various programs from its fuel management service provider, according to Tod Beers, director of energy.

ServiceMaster’s pickup, car, and trailer fleet records 2 million annual fuel transactions dispersed across 46 states. To limit purchase frequency, ServiceMaster’s salespeople are restricted to fuel purchases during their workweek.

“Before the fuel card program, our average salesperson burned 48-55 gallons of fuel per week; now they burn 30 gallons or less,” Beers said.


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