Fuel costs are the biggest concern of private truck fleet managers, according to a recent survey conducted by asset management and financial services firm First Fleet Corp., a Fort Lauderdale, FL-based subsidiary of PHH Arval.
The respondents to the survey represent just over 200 large national private fleets, the majority of which are operated by Fortune 500-level companies.
According to the survey, 48% of the fleets are using on-site fueling stations to control fuel costs, while 38% have issued credit or debit cards to their drivers to refuel at stations where they have discounted rates.
“In the ongoing cost control war, private truck fleets are constantly looking for new ways to rein in operating expenses,” said John Flynn, First Fleet president & CEO. “First Fleet advices our customers, based on extensive research, to review operating methods to lower current fuel consumption and adjust the specs on their truck orders to counteract the impact new engine emissions standards will have on their fleet operating costs.”
“Certainly the larger, more multi-location operations that have the global purchasing power [would use on-site fueling stations],” Gary Petty, president of the National Private Truck Council (NPTC), told Fleet Owner. “It’s really a sliding economy-of-scale question based on purchasing power as well as location.”
“Everybody is fighting for fuel mileage. In fact we’re going to do a national study with ten of our major fleets to see what we can do to help [on fuel] with black boxes,” Hal Booth, First Fleet senior vp told Fleet Owner, adding that the company plans on committing $300,000 to the project. “We think it will be well worth it.”
The First Fleet survey also touched upon maintenance issues as a “major focus” among respondents, with 34% saying their fleet have on-site maintenance facilities, 23% outsourcing maintenance and repairs to contractors’ facilities, and 42% using a combination of company-run shops and outside facilities.
“Typically if a fleet doesn’t do any of its own maintenance it’d be outsourced to a leasing company,” Booth said. “Some managers just don’t want to be bothered with maintenance and prefer to outsource it…[with] Penske or Ryder or whoever else is in town.
“The fleets that do most of the in-house maintenance are fleets with a lot of trucks in one location, or even 100% of the fleet in one location,” Booth continued. “For example, DaimlerChrysler does all their own maintenance because their fleet is all in one location.”
According to NPTC studies, 53% of private fleet maintenance is outsourced.
“That said, you still have a fairly high percentage of private fleets that have their own shops,” NPTC’s Petty said. “With outsourcing, it could begin with something as simple as leased mechanics that come to work on your property, all the way to full-service leasing. But, again, in larger fleets there are some hybrid combinations— some companies have their own mechanics but in some more remote locations, they outsource their mechanics in-part or entirely.”
For more information, go to www.firstfleet.com.