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Fuel price rises
Half the cost of fuel is duty. Only the Chancellor can change that, but you can take control of your fuel consumption and make real savings

Advice: PETER McSEAN

FUEL costs: they just get higher and higher, don’t they? Not that you need reminding of the next guaranteed increase, but fuel duty is set to rise in January 2013 by 3p per litre.

Every small business could do without that, but bigger bills are on the way. It’s inevitable. Or is it?

The Forum of Private Business, which campaigns on behalf of small businesses, has issued a statement to the Chancellor calling on action to improve the economy in his Autumn Statement. And its number one issue is fuel duty.

“Of all the costs to business, fuel hits the largest number of our members. We want to see the Chancellor freezing fuel duty for at least a further six months,” says the Forum’s Head of Policy, Alex Jackman.

But what if the Chancellor doesn’t listen? What then?

  • Irrespective of a fuel duty cut, you can reduce fuel costs now

Actually, there’s a way to cut your fuel costs. By at least 15 per cent.

Most drivers can reduce their fuel bills by 15 per cent simply by driving in a more fuel-efficient way. With specialist training, the saving often rises to 25 per cent. But let’s keep it simple.

What can you do, without any expensive training, to cut your fuel bill?

Three things. Efficient driving. Efficient planning. Efficient van prep.

Van interior
This is where you can make the biggest difference. Van operators see huge variations in fuel consumption between different drivers

 

Efficient driving

Efficient driving, first. Think ahead, look further down the road and anticipate road conditions. It’s about preserving momentum, and trying to avoid sudden braking and sharp acceleration.

Don’t welly it away from the lights and then slam on the anchors at the last minute for the next red light. That wastes fuel.

Where possible, change up at about 2000rpm. This keeps a diesel engine in its most fuel-efficient operating range. Many drivers also find it a less stressful way to drive than revving the socks off the engine.

Watch your speed. Driving at 85mph uses 25 per cent more fuel than driving at 70mph, according to the Energy Saving Trust. And when you’re stuck in stationary traffic or parked up, say, taking a call, switch off the engine.

Using the aircon can keep you alert and that’s good for safety – but it’s worth knowing that the aircon adds between two and five per cent to your fuel bill. Keeping the windows closed at higher speeds will also boost mpg.

Small van laden
Use online journey planners and satnav to plan the most fuel efficient delivery routes

 

Efficient planning

Next, planning. Don’t burn fuel doing unnecessary mileage.

Satnavs can help reduce your dead mileage. Yes, they sometimes get a bad press but more often than not they’ll prevent you driving round aimlessly in an unfamiliar neighbourhood in search of a new client’s premises.

What’s more, many satnavs – including Garmins and Tom Toms – include an eco route option, where they will plan the most fuel-efficient route. If your satnav does that, use it.

Alternatively, use one of the many free online journey planners and, where possible, drive at times when traffic is freer flowing. Use online fuel comparison sites, too, so you know the cheapest places to fill up.

Tyre wear
Keep tyres inflated properly, and when you replace them, look for fuel friendly brands

 

Efficient van prep

Finally, the van. Check the tyre pressures.

On top of vital safety issues, a 25 per cent drop in recommended pressure bumps up your fuel bill by two per cent. It all adds up.

And take notice of the new EU tyre labelling regs when you replace your tyres. You can now see which tyres are most economical on fuel and it can make a big difference.

Don’t put stuff on the roof unless you need to – at motorway speeds, a simple roof rack – even unloaded – can increase fuel consumption by 16 per cent, according to a study by automotive design and engineering firm IDEA.

And weight: don’t carry unnecessary cargo or equipment. Weight is a key factor in fuel consumption: the more of it you have to shift, the more fuel you’ll be using.

The effect of speed on fuel consumption

Small van speeding
Speed is the real killer of good fuel consumption. The savings can be staggering – think between a quarter and a third of your fuel bill!

You don’t have to drive everywhere Harry Flatters…in fact the more considered your driving, the more you’ll save:

For a typical large van the increases in fuel consumption depending on van speedare dramatic

  • 23% increase in fuel consumption between 60 and 70mph
  • 37% increase in fuel consumption between 60 and 75mph

Source: Energy Saving Trust

Five FTA Fuel Duty Facts

  1. Petrol really costs about 60p per litre (excluding duty and VAT)
  2. Fuel duty is over half the total price that is paid at the time of purchase
  3. Fuel duty is a tax on work – it’s paid straight out of cash flow or household expenditure, not profits or savings
  4. Fuel duty is paid by everyone – businesses and hard working families
  5. A 3p per litre rise in fuel duty costs a 10 vehicle freight operator approximately £14,000 a year – that could be a person’s wages!

Source:  James Hookham, FTA Managing Director Policy & Communications

How BT boosted fuel economy and saved £3million

Remapping programme gives fuel economy and environmental boost to BT Fleet
BT Fleet vehicles are undergoing remapping to improve fuel economy and emissions

BT decided to improved the fuel efficiency and emissions of its business vans by using remapping technology supplied by Viezu.

  • 20,000 of BT’s light commercial vehicles were remapped
  • Aim: deliver better fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions
  • Tuned vehicles ranged from small Corsa sized vans through to larger Transit chassis-cab vans, with much larger payloads and different driving cycles.
  • “Vehicle remapping offers fleets a host of opportunities and we’re being increasingly asked by companies like BT to help them achieve their own environmental and cost reduction targets,” explains Paul Busby, CEO, ViezuTechnologies.

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