FUEL shortages in recent weeks have caused a rapid loss of control over fleet running costs because company car and van drivers were often being forced to buy fuel where they could get it meaning their employers having to pay whatever prices were being asked.
Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet management software company FleetCheck said that petrol and diesel prices had already been rising rapidly before the onset of the fuel crisis and, since then, have only increased further.
He added: “Most well-managed fleets have fuel policies that are designed to minimise costs, for example by specifying certain types of outlet or using a fuel card, but those measures have very much gone out of the window and there has been a rapid loss of control.
“We can see, for example, that company car and van drivers at some of our software users have been buying fuel from motorway services, which would generally be almost unknown. Presumably, they’ve been unable to get petrol and diesel anywhere else.
“It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that some fleets will have seen their pence per mile fuel costs increase by a 25% over the last year.”
Golding said, there was evidence that some fuel outlets had been profiteering in the wake of shortages. “There are certainly reports of prices at individual fuel outlets that provoke a sharp intake of breath. While this might be the product of an understandable supply and demand situation, it still leaves a nasty taste. There has to be a high degree of trust between fleets and their regular suppliers, even when it comes buying petrol or diesel.”
He also pointed to advice from FleetCheck’s affinity partner for petrol and diesel purchasing, Wex Europe Services, operators of the Esso fuel card, suggesting that there were actions that fleets could take to manage the fuel situation.
“This is something that can be proactively tackled. Users of fuel cards will tend to have access to preferential fuel rates, for example, as well as being provided with more information about fuel availability. Telematics also has a potentially important role to play in ensuring that employees are driving in a style that helps to maximise fuel economy.”
FleetCheck last week issued a five point guide to fleets designed to help them maximise fuel use while the crisis was underway.
Golding said: “The reaction we’ve had to this has been good. What we are seeing now is that the fuel crisis has become very regionalised. In some areas, it appears to be over while, in others, there is still queueing going on. Where shortages persist, fleets have been very receptive to this guidance.”