Companies are always trying to save money when it comes to their commercial vehicle fleets, which is why they spend so much time looking for the best fleet managers, commercial vehicle insurance providers and parts for their vehicles. Tyres are often expensive for commercial vehicles, especially large HGVs, and they also need to be replaced on a regular basis due to the amount of long-haul driving is required.
So commercial vehicle owners will be interested to hear that Michelin has produced tyres for HGVs that can provide a record amount of mileage for HGVs. Olivers Transport in Eccles recently fitted a Scania 6×2 twin-steer tractor unit with Michelin’s latest 315/80 R 22.5 X MultiWay 3D XZE tyres, which have already clocked up an impressive 220,000 kilometres and still have 7 millimetres of tread left. Fleet engineer at Olivers Transport, Kevin Hawker is now planning on fitting the rest of the fleet with the tyres and believes this will save the company a notable amount of money.
He said: “The mileage we’ve seen from the X MultiWay 3D tyres is incredible and we still have a significant amount of tread remaining. We recently ran several sets of steer tyres from another premium tyre brand which came fitted as original equipment and they only averaged 170,000km before needing to be replaced. If we hit our 270,000km projections we will have achieved nearly 60 per cent more mileage. For a busy fleet like ours, on the road seven days a week, any extra tyre life is a huge bonus.”
“Michelin has always been our tyre of choice and even though we have tested other brands over the years it is Michelin that we keep coming back to. We keep detailed tyre records and have seen the performance of some mainstream rival brands drop away in recent years, whereas the Michelin tyres are going the other way and we are getting better results than we’ve ever seen before, especially from the X MultiWay 3D. The previous XZE2+ tyres were sometimes prone to increased shoulder wear. However the new X MultiWay 3D is much more resilient and its revised contact patch with the road has improved wear considerably.”
Cambridgeshire based fleet services provider Alliance Asset Management is offering private and public sector organisations a rental health check in order to make sure they are obtaining maximum business value. The health check will be free of charge for the first ten customers that take up the offer, as long as their spending is between ten thousand and twenty five thousand pounds a year.
As many companies are struggling with the current economic conditions, it may be wiser for some to choose to rent vehicles instead of investing in them outright, or signing leases that can run for several years and may be costly to exit. Furthermore, if businesses choose to rent vehicles they will not be stuck with assets that constantly depreciate in value, and can choose whether to have the vehicle for a couple of days or months at a time. However, according to Vincent St Claire of Alliance Asset Management, many companies are still not treating rental as an integral part of their fleet policy. Furthermore, many companies are failing to benchmark their ancillary charges, take into consideration invoicing errors, or think about the un-budgeted logistical charges linked to their current supplier’s location network.
St. Claire stated that “We have relationships with many of the UK’s major rental suppliers and will use our expertise and marketplace intelligence to conduct a comprehensive rental audit on behalf of our customers.” The alliance will help companies by reviewing their current rental charges, analysing in-house policies and processes for the hiring of vehicles, check in-life management rental techniques, and analyse the best ways to minimise ancillary and end of rental charges. St. Claire goes on to note “We believe that rental vehicle is an excellent transportation solution for many businesses, but we are also conscious that unforeseen charges can quickly mount if not closely managed and maintained. By helping organisations overcome such issues we believe that vehicle hire can be an even more important and flexible transport solution for public and private sector fleets.”
Whilst companies can save money by keeping an eye on the rent costs of their vehicles, investing in van insurance for the fleet is also important. Fleet owners could even save money by talking to a variation of companies to see if they offer discounts on van insurance for fleets over a certain size.
Kier fleet services have announced that for the next two years Nexus Vehicle Rental will be the new rental provider for the company. The new contract will see Nexus Vehicle Rental providing a nationwide supply of both short and medium term rental vehicles, with almost twenty per cent of which will be used for commercial purposes. Kier is also able to access ‘special build’ vehicles via Nexus, such as vehicles that are required for specific projects which can be returned after the rental period, removing the need for Kier to purchase such vehicles.
Kier’s fleet manager, Steve Osborne, said “Through Nexus we have access to a broader range of rental services and systems, and improved supply across all vehicle types from standard to highly specialist. Its flexibility and problem solving attitude means we are guaranteed vehicle delivery and an unparalleled level of service while saving costs through increased efficiencies.” It has been reported that Kier’s fleet services team will be able to provide vehicles across the Kier Group using Nexus’ Intelligent Rental Information Software platform, which has access to a secure, web-based system that manages the full rental process, provides total cost control, and delivers tailored real-time reporting.
Talking about the software, Osborne said, “IRIS has been the most attractive solution for us in both day to day operations and report management, which we can now access instantly highlighting any issues as they arise while increasing our capability to reduce both cost and management time. IRIS has allowed our business units to take increased responsibility for their own rental spend and we have used the data to identify the vehicles we use the most to secure preferential rates saving our business further money.”
Many fleet services companies are now looking to new ways of saving money, especially by using new technologies provided by the internet and software innovations. Many van insurance providers are now online, meaning that companies can get quotes for their fleets quickly and easily, saving them time and money.
The Department for Transport (DfT) have announced a pilot scheme for road improvements which should see four major road projects completed in double quick time.
The schemes will be welcomed by the majority of motorists but those who typically cover their vehicles with commercial vehicle insurance will be particularly pleased. The four highways involved are the A160/180 in Lincolnshire, the M3 in Surrey, The M1 between Sheffield and Nottingham, and the M6 in the West Midlands. All of the roads attract high volumes of business traffic and the new road layouts should cut travelling times down once the improvements are made.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin spoke about the reduced construction time saying: “I am determined to cut the time it takes to upgrade our roads in half by dismantling procedures that have slowed us down. Together these schemes will increase capacity for millions of road users by 72 miles. My ambition is that in future all major road schemes will be accelerated, tackling congestion more quickly and boosting the economy.”
The DfT are confident the project will see every kilometre of motorway built in a fortnight as opposed to the present four weeks and say the A160/180 project will be slower but still come in much quicker than engineers manage under the present system. The new system will see construction of certain elements completed off site and the introduction of contract staff involved at an earlier stage. The work will continue 24 hours a day until the jobs are finished and the DfT hope the project will create a blue print for road improvement schemes in the future.
As part of their on-going drive to reduce its fleet carbon footprint as well as delivering financial savings, Hewer Facilities Management Ltd has just taken delivery of thirty-six high specification Berlingo HDi 90 manual L1 Enterprise vans which will be added to their commercial van insurance policy.
Hewer acquired the latest Berlingo vans on a mix of outright purchase and three-year, 60,000 mile contract hire with maintenance agreements. In addition to the excellent standard equipment which includes air conditioning, reverse parking sensors and Bluetooth, the vans have been fitted with a full steel bulkhead, non-slip composite flooring and roof bars. Hewer also asked for specifically designed racking to meet the strenuous requirements of their engineers.
Hewer are involved in heating and electrical projects for businesses, local authorities and health services, and also have a large number of domestic customers within a hundred mile radius of their base. The company are also continuing to grow its Failsafe domestic heating care plan, which has gained over 1,000 new customers since it was launched. The standard fit Trafficmaster Smartnav satellite navigation system and Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking means mean that Hewer are able to achieve substantial cost savings and lower van insurance premiums.
Robert Willmott Hewer’s Contract Manager, said: ‘We have had a long and successful operating experience with Berlingo vans, which now form the majority of our 65-strong fleet. As an environmentally conscious company, every fleet renewal time we carry out a comprehensive review to see whether there is a van that can beat the Berlingo. To date we have continued to acquire Berlingos because of their unbeatable combination of environmental, operational, financial and driver benefits. These latest Euro 5 Berlingos are nearly 10% more fuel efficient than the Euro 4 versions they replace and their CO2 emissions are 13g/km lower.”
A report released by one of the UK’s leading motoring organisations suggests that claims from whiplash injuries are costing the motor insurance industry £2 billion a year and puts £90 extra onto the cost of an average van insurance premium.
The AA, who published the report, are now urging the Government to take firm action on the crisis which is affecting cost of motor insurance, and say reform is now long overdue. In the last two years quotes for commercial vehicle insurance have gone up by 50% and the AA put the increase down to the amount of personal injury claims emanating from road traffic accidents. A recent meeting between insurers, Government ministers and road safety experts committed resources to weeding out dubious and fraudulent claims but nothing has transpired just yet.
Simon Douglas, speaking on behalf of the AA, said “We need a tight time scale applied to reform of civil litigation which at present, encourages people to make a claim regardless of how serious their injury is or even if they have not suffered injury at all. Importantly, we need reforms that clamp down on cold-call claims management and personal injury firms who have contributed to the growth of claims. The present dysfunctional system has also spawned the fraudulent multi-million-pound ‘cash for crash’ industry.”
There is no doubt that members of the legal profession, professional accident management companies and even insurance companies have realised the cash potential in personal injury claims but the AA say it is now time to put an end to the claim culture. They are calling for a medical panel to replace examinations by GPs and raising the limit from £1000 to £5,000 for personal injury claims. They also call for tougher action to be taken against people caught making fraudulent claims. The fact is that the rising cost of motor insurance is coming at a time when road traffic accident rates have been cut dramatically which in itself indicates that something is wrong with the system.
As commercial drivers continue to struggle operating a business with overheads almost impossibly high, one of the UK’s leading road safety campaigning groups once again stress the benefits of advanced driving techniques.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) believes drivers can sometimes be their own worst enemy when it comes to fuel costs and advocate several simple driving tips that could save motorists running their own businesses thousands of pounds over the course of a year. The tips are all based on data derived from professional sources and are all eminently easy procedures for drivers who spend a lot of time on the road.
IAM first of all advise drivers to check their tyres on a regular basis and always before setting out on long journeys. Under inflated tyres are dangerous and can put fuel consumption up by 3%. Always stick to the speed limit, doing this will not only save petrol (the difference between 70 mph and 85 mph can be as much as a litre of fuel every 20 miles) but also make you a safer driver, less liable to be involved in accidents and more likely to get cheap van insurance. Use cruise control for long days of travelling but remember to turn it off when going up steep inclines. Switch off your engine if you are constantly stop starting in urban traffic and always remember to cut down on clutter; the more weight you are pulling the more fuel you will consume.
All quite simple and common sense according to IAM chief Executive Simon Best who said: “Green driving techniques can easily improve fuel efficiency by up to 10%. In other words, if the monthly price of filling up is typically two tanks at £70 each – an advanced driver can save £14 a month. For professional drivers and those in haulage and delivery the savings would be considerably more.”
Van drivers will have good reason to call in at their local supermarket this week as three of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK announce they are cutting the price of fuel.
On the day that tanker driver leaders must decide whether to accept the offer made by the oil distribution companies or give notice of a strike, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have announced they are reducing the cost of fuel at their supermarket garage forecourts. Asda set the ball rolling by announcing to its customers that unleaded fuel would be no more than 138.7p a litre and that diesel would have a top price of 143.7p a litre, in both cases a cut of about 2p a litre. Tesco immediately countered the Asda news by dropping the price to 137.9 and 140.9 ensuring they were cheaper on both types of fuel. Sainsbury’s later announced they would be “cutting the price of petrol and diesel in many of our stores” without actually putting a figure on the price drop.
In fact the news of the price war comes just days after motoring organisation AA revealed that wholesale prices for oil had dropped by 7% in the last few days. A spokesman for the AA said: “When you have your average family spending more on filling up than they spend in a week on food, prices need to come down as quickly as they can. If the wholesale petrol price holds or continues to crash, the UK pump prices should fall at least 4p in the next fortnight. With VAT that rises to 5p.”
Steve Hughes, a commercial driver from Dudley, was one of the first to take advantage of the price drop at a West Midlands Tesco garage, and said “ I never thought I would be happy to see the price of Diesel at 140p a litre but I am today and I’ve also just managed to get a reduction on my van insurance as well.” The cut will come just in time to save some smaller commercial enterprises as the Fuel Card association noted last week that some smaller fleet companies were turning work down because the price of fuel had completely eroded their profit margins.
A new deal between the Fuelcard Company and Tesco will allow fleet drivers to be able to use their Keyfuel cards at any of the supermarket forecourts at no extra charge. The deal will mean drivers will have an extra 475 sites which extends the network of available forecourts to 1925.
The partnership will secure Keyfuels’ place as one of the most prominent networks in the United Kingdom, with drivers able to access diesel at a single fixed price regardless of the advertised retail pump price. Tesco join rival supermarkets Morrison’s and Somerfield as well as the extensive motorway service station network, Moto, in accepting Keyfuels cards. Commercial van drivers will also be able to collect club card points on their fuel purchases with one point for every £2 spent on diesel added to their card.
Lee Atkinson, partnership manager at The Fuelcard Company, said “This new partnership with Tesco will give fleet drivers with Keyfuels cards access to an extended network of sites at convenient locations around the UK. Whether they are travelling on motorways or through towns and cities, our customers can have peace of mind knowing that there is a filling site within reach. With the price of fuel reaching record highs, we are trying to give our customers as much help as we can.”
By guaranteeing a fixed price across the whole Keyfuels network, fleet managers will not get any nasty surprises when it comes to paying for their fuel at the pump. Each business will receive a weekly price notification via email or text confirming the fuel price for the following week so that they can plan ahead. Businesses will be able to monitor the fuel usage of each of the vans which are protected with commercial vehicle insurance and fleet managers will also be provided with a wealth of information which will help identify any area where a saving can be made.
Local councils in Perth and Kinross have made a pledge to copy their counterparts in Canada and Germany by switching to greener technology and move away from diesel and petrol vehicles.
Trials have already started with the dog control team who are using two new vans, one powered by electric, the other using a hybrid engine and both covered by vehicle insurance cover. The change to green fuel may pose some problems in the coming months for the local authority because efforts in the Highlands to have a fleet of vehicles powered by electric were cut short during last year’s harsh winter. The vehicles used had to be taken off the road because they could not cope with the low temperatures, but it is a problem that the council are aware of, and one that they are confident of resolving.
Head of environmental and consumer services Keith McNamara said: “There is still some way to go before the council is in a position to replace its entire fleet. I would like to say that all refuse collection vehicles will be LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) soon, but technology is still not at that stage. Electric and hybrid cars are fine to an extent, but we need to have something that will deliver what we need and when we need it. At the moment, we don’t quite have the technology.”
Two months ago councillors backed plans to apply for almost £500,000 to establish a three year project to cut air pollution caused by heavy goods vehicles. Under the scheme, deliveries would be made to a central location before being brought into the town by an electric vehicle or one with a cleaner engine. Supporters of the scheme feel that by doing this it will go some way to cutting the one thousand lorries that enter Perth on five days of the week.