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Focus on the facts for fleet fuel choices, says CLM

Firms seeking to re-evaluate their fleet fuel choices should get the fundamentals right, take advice if need be and not be swayed by a wealth of conflicting messages in the marketplace.

John Lawrence, CLM

John Lawrence, CLM MD, says fleets should focus on the facts when it comes to fuel type choices

That’s the view of John Lawrence, managing director at CLM Fleet Management, who says that fleets should take a back-to-basics approach and do the number crunching to look at their choices. This includes an emphasis on whole-life costs and ensuring that the right vehicles are selected for the right roles and journey patterns as well as looking at mileage and how long you intend to run the vehicle.

Lawrence said that CLM would never advise a wholesale switch away from diesels “because for many situations these remain the most cost-effective choice”.

Building on from comments from ACFO, he explained that fleets should be basing fuel type purchasing decisions on the cold, hard facts.

“If the nature of your business demands a large number of short, urban journeys, then plug-in hybrids or even pure EVs can be the perfect choice,” he explained.

“But if you’re covering longer distances, and don’t have the opportunity for charging, then EVs simply aren’t an option and plug-in hybrids become conventional vehicles carrying several hundred kilos of battery packs and electric motors.”

He also warned that drivers opting for a plug-in hybrid to minimise BiK liabilities but not making the most of charging options were very likely to see much higher fuel bills than diesels as a result – something that ACFO has also warned about.

“By working closely with your fleet management partner, you should be able to assess journey patterns and crunch the numbers to determine the optimal vehicle mix for the business. We’re not pretending this is rocket science but it’s surprising how many organisations are being poorly advised,” he said.

Lawrence also said that a panel funding solution, such as its own Smartpanel product, could help fleets find the best price for each vehicle at a time when leasing companies are currently taking very different residual value positions depending on manufacturer, model and particularly fuel type.

“From a vehicle acquisition perspective, this means that if you’re not shopping around for the best deal on each individual vehicle you’re likely to be paying too much. Offerings like our own Smartpanel funding solution mean you’ll at least have the flexibility to pick the leasing company with the best price for the vehicle in question.”

Lawrence concluded: “There are a lot of changes in our industry at the moment, but this doesn’t have to lead to panic or rash decision-making. By sticking to the basics of good fleet management it means we can take advantage of the opportunities provided by new technologies and avoid the potential pitfalls.

“If people are concerned, there’s a lot of good information and advice out there amongst the commotion and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help in seeking it out,” he added.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.