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Chris Bell

What you need to Know about Building Your Vehicle Fleet



If you’re looking to expand your business, and you’re heavily reliant on road transport, then you’ll need to also expand your fleet. In the wake of the coronavirus measures, the private sector has a crucial role to play in getting supplies, essential and non-essential, right to the front door. You might ask questions like ‘is this the right time to upgrade’ and ‘how much is my car worth, anyway?’

But building a fleet is a more long-term project, and you’ll need to lay foundations at the start that will provide a return on the investment two, five, or ten year in the future.

Sustainability

The term ‘sustainability’ doesn’t just refer to green credentials (though those are undoubtedly important). It means thinking about the overall cost of a vehicle over the course of its lifespan. An inefficient van might be cheaper to purchase up-front, but it will place a burden on your company’s finances when it comes to fuelling and maintenance costs. If you multiply this short-termism across an entire fleet of vehicles, the result is likely to be disastrous.

Instead, you should consider more modern, even electric vehicles. There are some circumstances where the latter make particular sense – if you operate in urban environments where range-anxiety isn’t an issue, charging facilities are more plentiful, and more stringent pollution measures are likely to come into force, then the switch makes sense. If you’re out in the countryside, or need a longer reach, then this might not be the case.

How many cars do you need?

You should have enough vehicles at your disposal to meet the needs of your business. Spend more, and you’ll be wasting money. This is where accurately modelling and predicting demand can be critical. It’s easy to pump money into new vehicles if it looks as though demand is surging – if you have an idea of what the future holds, as with so many things in business, you’ll be able to make more sensible spending decisions.

Organising the right routes

By optimising your logistics, you’ll be able to put drivers on the fastest, most fuel-efficient routes. In this way, you’ll allow them to do more work with less time spent on the road, and deliver a superior service to your customers. Doing this properly might mean investing in centralised computing systems, or outsourcing to a dedicated company who’ll do it for you. Consider whether this investment is worthwhile.

The skill of the driver

The performance of even the most technically efficient vehicle can be compromised if it’s being driven by a poor driver. It’s easy to underestimate just how important things like braking and acceleration are to the long-term fuel efficiency of a fleet, but these tiny savings can aggregate into considerable ones over months and years. With this in mind, it’s worth doing all you can to incentivise good driving behaviour through careful monitoring and feedback.