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HOW do you manage you fleet fuel costs?

Cash payments, reimbursing driver expenses or paying by company credit cards is not really the most efficient way and can leave you open to potential fraud or security risks for your drivers.

What are the benefits of having a fuel card?

To manage fuel spend accurately you need to record data and keep on top of mileage vs fuel claims.

Many fuel cards will track information on fuel tank capacity against fuel purchases, which can be the best method of detecting fraud or suspicious behaviour and picking up such cases.

Having systems that can connect these two areas of data means can instantly flag up scenarios where you have fuel spend with no mileage data against it to detect possible fraud.

A ‘pay and reclaim’ system is obviously not automated and therefore the opportunity for over-claiming mileage is high, even if a driver’s intentions are honest.

Even adding just on a few miles is technically theft and can cost a business significantly and initiate problems with HMRC.

Fuel cards also help to improve efficiency with the provision of detailed information on fuel spend and usage.

This data can help identify areas where vehicles may require additional maintenance or highlight drivers with wasteful behaviour that may require additional training to improve performance and efficiency.

Do fuel cards save you money?

Time and personnel costs involved in analysing mileage claims manually can be high. With the introduction of fuel cards, mileage and other fuel purchases can be linked and analysed behind the scenes quickly.

Data can also be used to pick up trends in terms of things like driver risk and in many cases you can find trends on those that are over-filling, or are more prone to accidents, or perhaps even when use of public transport on different occasions may be more cost effective.

The use of fuel cards will also generally help to improve driver behaviour as drivers will be fully aware that you are watching them more closely.

Administration and reclaiming VAT on fuel becomes a much simpler and more accurate process using fuel cards, with fuel card providers being able to prepare this information to you no matter what country or tax jurisdiction you need to adhere to.

Look for a system that can help transform how you manage your business fleet, not  something that replicates what you currently do on paper.

A system that can help analyse data and identify ways to cut costs or reduce downtime will help you to go beyond your current capability so be sure there is added value.

Car fuel benefit tax is charged for taking free fuel for a company car. So if an employer pays fuel for private use as well as your business use, then car fuel benefit tax applies.

What about electric vehicles?

Fuel cards used by the fleet industry to allow drivers to pay for the petrol/diesel with the company invoiced directly could be phased out with the increased adoption of electric vehicle.

As the mass market for petrol and diesel declines is gradually phased out there will be a need to pay for electricity at a charge point.

Cornwall Insight’s latest analysis in Charged up: Future Fleet – a quarterly review of the fleet vehicle transition to EVs – suggests that not only is there merit in examing a similar fuel card payment service but, provision needs to be made for a standardised payment method now.

Tom Lusher, Analyst at Cornwall Insight said: “The issue of lack of standard payment methods for EV charging was recognised in the Electric Vehicle (Standardised Recharging) Bill.

“Without a universal payment method for EVs, this will quickly become an administrative headache for fleet managers. Especially, those with a broad geographical range, who will end up having to manage multiple different memberships and fees.

“The most obvious way for fleets to pay at charge points would be to use the same fuel card system they have now. Not only will fleet managers already know how to use the system, but the familiarity will allow fleets to transition to EVs far more quickly.

“Provision needs to be made now to the Electric Vehicle Bill to support fuel card providers to expand services to cover all charge points across the country.

“This provision would ensure that fuel cards, as well as all other types of credit/debit card, can pay at a charge point without the need for a subscription or an app associated with any chargepoint network in the country.”

Lusher said that some limitations are preventing widespread, easy adoption.

Fuel card providers may be unable to offer such a service due to the multiple charge point operators, each with unique subscription services and their cards.  

However, schemes such as Plug-in Suffolk’ – although localised – shows that a fully open charging network could work.”

BP is launching a new Fuel and Charge offer covering vehicle fleets no matter what their engine type.

Due to launch later this summer, the offer provides fleets in the UK with access to the BP Plus cross acceptance network, comprising over 3,600 fuel sites.

It also includes the polar network which is made up of over 7,000 EV charging points. Drivers can check the BP Fuel and Charge Card App to find the closest available EV charging point or BP forecourt.

As well as access to the nationwide networks, BP can also offer customers fully integrated support, through the installation of home and office charging via BP Chargemaster.