How to save fuel

Despite seeing a R3.20 drop in petrol prices and R4.40 drop in diesel prices between November and January, March will bring the downward movement of the petrol price to a halt. While yet to be confirmed, predictions are that fuel will increase by approximately R1.20 per litre.

Projections at the start of 2024 expected no major price fluctuations because of the suppressed oil price expected in 2024. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says: “The only significant risk to soaring prices was expected to be geopolitical occurrences.

“While this is welcome news, a petrol price over R20/L still presents challenges for fleets under immense financial pressure. Now, in the third month of the year, a significant second is expected. Irrespective of price predictions and their validity, fleet operators should be strengthening their fleets against fluctuations,” says Herbert.

Adopting safer driving behaviours is one of the best ways to reduce fuel costs as it reduces some of the biggest expenses to fuel bills.

  1. Speeding: a game of eights

Every 8km/h driven over 80km/h decreases efficiency by almost 8%. This means if you normally get 8l/100km, efficiency is reduced by approximately 0.64l/100km every 8km/h driven over 80km/h.

The faster one drives, the greater the resistance. The engine works exponentially harder after 95km/h and consumption begins to increase significantly.

How to effect change: despite AARTO’s recent delay, speedsters will likely face the biggest consequences. Undertake campaigns that illustrate the potential implications of losing one’s license on their livelihood and wellbeing.

Start employee recognition campaigns to acknowledge those making significant changes to their driving behaviour. Showing appreciation for drivers making the biggest changes and who maintain this change over time. 

  1. Be calm

Rapidly switching between lanes, harsh braking and acceleration will not get one there any faster – only waste fuel. A study conducted by the US’s Energy Department’s Oakridge National Laboratory reveals aggressive driving reduces efficiency by 15 to 30% on highways and 10 to 40% in stop-and-go traffic. 

Continuing the analogy of 8l/100km, aggressive driving in a passenger vehicle adds between 0.8 and 3,2l/100km onto fuel consumption. Driving defensively will not only remove the stress of driving aggressively but also save money.

How to effect change: aggressive driving is not only expensive but extremely dangerous, increasing chances of being in a crash and falling afoul of another motorist. Every organisation should have zero-tolerance for this behaviour which is enforced using telematics data.

  1. Pump ‘em up

Underinflated tyres can reduce economy by 3% or more. The tread, composition, weight, and height all contribute to a loss of energy called ‘rolling resistance.’ Approximately 20% of the energy in a vehicle is used to overcome this.

As colder months approach, it is particularly important to keep an eye on tyre pressure. Cold weather drops tyre pressure and and should be checked even more regularly.

How to effect change: all fleets should have regular and mandatory vehicle checks. Pressure checks at filling stations may not be as accurate as doing it with a good quality but affordable tyre pressure gauge. Ensure fleet drivers have the necessary tools to be vigilant when it comes to this.

Fleet operators have no control over oil prices fluctuations or geopolitical events influencing fuel price. They do, however, have control over incorporating all possible fuel saving techniques to minimise fuel expenses on their bottom line. Safety training will be the first step in effecting change to high fuel consumption.