Reducing fuel bills is a top priority for any business involving commercial vehicles. Whether you operate just one van or a fleet of 50, these tips can do wonders to help you save time and money refuelling.
There’s a fine science to saving money on fuel. And the more vans your business operates, the more you stand to gain by implementing these suggestions. A combination of eco-driving habits, the right vans, and knowing when to retire them can result in big savings for you and your business.
#1 Drive like an eco-boss to save fuel
Experts say that the best way to save on fuel costs regardless of equipment is to develop the right driving habits. And the first thing to note is that good driving is subtle. Flashy manoeuvres, fast and furious accelerations, and short stops have no place in eco-friendly driving. All of these burn far more gas than is necessary and, according to various studies, could potentially reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30% at highway speeds!
First, be smart with the clutch. Upshift at low RPMs instead of pushing too far down on the peddle. This will obviate the need to rev the engine, which is basically the sound of your engine burning a whole lot of fuel all at once. The more wisely you use the stick, the more energy you’ll save.
For an extra eco-boost, you can delegate part of your driving style to the car with ECO mode, a built-in feature on all Renault vans. Pushing a button is all it takes to temporarily apply a more economical engine map and throttle response, improving your range by up to 10%. The Renault Kangoo even gives you the option of activating Permanent ECO mode.
#2 Keep your speed on the level
It’s nice to have a van with some pick-up when you need it, but best to avoid hard acceleration and braking otherwise. Maintain a consistent speed and you’ll see the results in your books. Use the van’s momentum to keep it moving and the natural resistance between the road and your tyres to help you slow down or even stop.
You also want to keep your speed down in general. Follow traffic regulations, including speed, for your vehicle. At highway speeds, even if you stay consistent, you will see outsize changes in the motor’s energy consumption: for every five mph over the speed limit, you can expect a full 7% reduction in fuel economy. To put that in perspective, driving at 85 mph would burn 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
#3 Park efficiently, too
Driving habits extend beyond the actual driving part. Some van drivers will idle without thinking about it when they run in to make a delivery or just a quick stop. The issue is that if your engine’s on, it’s burning fuel – and your budget, as well. On the other hand, your engine will cool down when turned off and, past a certain point, burn more fuel when starting back up. These are difficult judgment calls to make, but the rule of thumb should be to avoid idling whenever possible, except for those pop-out-and-back-in stops.
#4 Know when to lower windows or raise the AC
When moving at slow speeds in urban areas, lowering your windows and taking in that city air does not have a significant effect on fuel economy. On open roads or the highway, however, open windows will create drag that your engine has to compensate for. For that reason, it is recommended to use the air conditioning at high speeds. Be careful not to overdo it: if the weather is particularly hot, air conditioning can reduce fuel economy in conventional vehicles by as much as 25%.
#5 Drive the quickest route, and avoid traffic whenever possible
This one might seem obvious – we don’t expect you seek out longer routes and traffic – but we want to help you do it better. It always pays to monitor the road ahead: traffic and obstructions mean lots of stopping and then accelerating, which rapidly burns through fuel. The best way to avoid hitting unexpected delays on the roads, or endlessly searching for a client’s address, is to utilize a GPS system.
Here, Renault vans can help with handy features like the free R&GO app, which lets you turn your smartphone into a touchscreen for your dashboard; for 3D vehicle navigation, CoPilot is also available as an additional purchase. To guide you to your destination, the optional R-Link Multimedia system available in Renault vans includes TomTom navigation; you can also opt for live services to get real-time traffic news and accident warnings.
#6 Train yourself and your drivers to follow these habits
Both R&GO and R-Link services include ECO options to help you optimize fuel economy. R&GO can give you an ECO driving score, which includes fuel consumption information, a trip computer, and a rev counter. What’s more, R-Link offers subscription to a fun and comprehensive “Eco Driving Coach” dispensing tips to improve your driving style and reduce fuel consumption. The big plus with these options is that they make it easy for you and your drivers to take on ecological driving habits without need for any training: just learn as you drive!
Some business owners and fleet managers choose to set “eco benchmarks” for their drivers. Incentives like pay bonuses for high eco scores can motivate drivers to implement what they learn from electronic feedback, or from more comprehensive driver education.
#7 Perform regular maintenance on your fleet
Regular checks and upkeep not only keeps your vans running optimally, it also ensures you are getting the best mpg ratio possible. Careful monitoring of tyre pressure should already be an ingrained habit for fleet managers or small business owners, as a safety issue. That being said, tyre pressure also goes a long way towards maintaining fuel economy: a drop below recommended pressure creates more resistance between the road and your tyres, creating small fuel losses that will accumulate over the long term. To make safety and efficiency even easier, all Renault vans can be fitted with an optional tyre pressure monitor.
Applying lubricants to the engine, transmission, and drivetrain can reduce friction and wear, which in turn decreases fuel use. It’s often better to spring for high-quality lubricants: you will make up for the difference in price with savings and fuel, and the longevity of your vehicle.
Maintenance and fleet management also means unloading unnecessary cargo and equipment. When you move tools and materials you don’t need to a job, you are paying for their transportation in petrol.
Also, remove any roof racks on your van if they’re not getting regular use. Even an empty roof rack creates a great deal of drag, which means more work for your engine and thus greater fuel costs.
#8 Know when to replace vehicles
Vans – and especially fleets of vans – require large capital investments, so it’s only natural to want the most mileage out of our vehicles. Past its optimum economic lifespan, however, an old van may cost you far more in upkeep and fuel costs.
As such, and contrary to what one might expect, reducing the lifecycle of your current van or fleet of vans can save you money in the long run. When replacing your van or fleet, keep an eye on mpg figures for your business environment (that is to say urban, extra-urban, etc.). Twin Turbo technology in the ENERGY engines on offer from Renault provide more power with incredibly competitive fuel economy. You might even consider the 100% electric new Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. 33, a versatile, fully electric van with ultra-low running costs.
You’ll also want to consider Front Wheel Drive, as these vans are generally more fuel efficient than their Rear Wheel Drive counterparts. Renault offers all its vans with FWD options.
Follow these tips to see immediate improvements in your fleet’s fuel economy, to put those savings back into your business, and your money back to work.