Fuel Prices Soar

The fuel market – which largely determines the economic efficiency of commercial fleets – is inherently volatile. Local, national and international events can severely impact the price of diesel and petrol. At the moment, the news is not good. The war in Ukraine, massive inflation and the former chancellor’s disastrous ‘mini budget’ have sent fuel prices skyrocketing in recent weeks. Companies operating fleets have had to be extremely savvy in order to continue at full capacity. If you run a fleet, try using a fuel card comparison site to save money and centralize the fuel payment process. Hybrid and electric vehicles’ operating costs are less dependent upon fuel prices, but the rising cost of electricity should still worry operators of fleets.

Ultimately, businesses may have to streamline their logistical efforts even more than before in order to stay on top of the volatile fuel market without raising prices drastically for their goods and services.

Increase in Electric Fleets

An increasing number of large companies have started to switch over to electric commercial fleets. This switchover is particularly appealing to companies that operate large-scale, small-distance logistics elements. Amazon, for instance, is introducing electric delivery vehicles and has invested around 1 billion pounds in the project. These vehicles are never required to travel huge distances – only from fulfillment centres to homes. This makes them perfect candidates for electrification. Likewise, Virgin Media – another giant with huge reserves of funds – has started to electrify its fleet.

Increase in Electric Infrastructure

Electric vehicles are almost useless without accompanying infrastructure. Electric vehicles need to be charged. This has tied many preexisting electric vehicles to extremely limited areas where charging ports are available. More and more companies are investing in their own charging ports at their own depots. This has the advantage of centralizing the fueling process and cutting out the need for drivers to make stops at commercial petrol stations. An increase in nationwide electric vehicle charging facilities is also underway. Many motorway service stations are now equipped with a limited number of electric vehicle charging ports – although commercial fleet operators will have to compete with private owners to get spots. This is not an ideal scenario and is one of the reasons why electric vehicles in commercial use are largely restricted to local routes.

Research into Alternative Fuels

While electrification and fuel efficiency upgrades are often paramount in the minds of fleet operators, some companies – like Rivus – have started thinking slightly further ahead. Alternative fuels may hold the key to the future efficiency of commercial fleets. Hydrogen cell technology, which has been in development for many years, is seen by some as the most promising future fuel solution. If implemented correctly, hydrogen cell technology could be a way for businesses to completely distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry. A far simpler form of alternative fuel technology – the adaptation of vehicles to use leftover vegetable oils – has already been implemented by some companies.

Vegetable oil, however, is becoming more expensive as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Most European vegetable oil is sourced from vast fields in the embattled country.