Add OBD2 Vehicle Monitors To Your Fuel Card System & Reduce Fuel Costs

/ / cfo, finance, fleet management, obd2

Fuel expenses represent the single largest operating expense for most vehicle fleets.  Controlling these costs is difficult since fuel prices rise and fall with breathtaking speed.

Many companies implement fuel tracking systems and fuel card systems to help manage these costs, but the reality is that fuel receipt tracking highlights the expenses but does little to change fleet behaviors to reduce fuel waste.   For many fleets, OBD2 vehicle monitors provide the most affordable tool to capture  the missing information that can make a measurable reduction in fuel costs.

Fuel cards and fuel receipt tracking

The most common method for monitoring fleet fuel costs is to track fuel receipts.  This is done through the tracking of actual receipts turned in by drivers or through the use of fuel cards that report fuel purchases.  Either method is an effective way of tracking actual fuel expense and when that data is entered into a fleet management software system it becomes much easier to see an individual vehicle’s impact on fleet fuel expense and fuel efficiency.   Many online fleet management systems provide methods to import fuel card data directly into the software.

On their own fuel receipt tracking and fuel cards only tackle half the fleet management problem.  They don’t address issues that affect fuel use and consequently fuel expenses like fuel waste due to excessive idle time or bad driver behaviors.  They also can’t provide a view of how fuel is being used by vehicles because they don’t monitor fleet vehicle activities.

Many fleet managers also find that the odometer data provided through fuel cards can often be wrong due to data entry errors at the pump or deliberate attempts to hide actual vehicle mileage by drivers.  OBD2 vehicle monitors provide valuable information that makes fuel card data more useful because they track this important primary use information.

Excessive engine idling wastes fuel and money

Everyone knows that an hour of engine idling roughly costs a gallon of gas.  What is harder to know is how much of my fuel purchases are being wasted by excessive engine idle times?   Unfortunately fuel cards and fuel receipts can’t provide that information.   Without careful management it is pretty easy for a fleet to lose 25% or more of its fuel purchases through excessive idling.

OBD2 vehicle monitors compliment fuel receipt tracking by identifying instances of excessive engine idling and they can even send alerts to fleet managers to highlight the worst offenses.  While it is impossible to get rid of all engine idling you can use OBD2 engine idle monitoring to find patterns of idling that can be remedied.

For example, a workcrew that idles their vehicle every morning for 20 minutes at breakfast and an hour at lunch time with a 10 minute break thrownin during the day can waste 2 gallons of fuel per day.  Over the course of a year that is 520 gallons of wasted fuel which at $4/gallon is over $2k/annum for a single vehicle.  A fuel card could never capture this information but an OBD2 monitor can.

Speeding and other fuel wasting driver behaviors

speed_vs_mpg_2012_smIn addition to engine idling there are other driver behaviors that affect fuel use and your fuel budgets.  Most folks think that speeding is primarily a safety issue for their fleet but it is also a cause of reduced fuel economy figures for the fleet and individual vehicles.  Fuel economy drops off precipitously after you pass 55 MPH as this graph from theUS DOE shows.  The DOE predicts a 7%-14% fuel economy benefit for slowing down by 5-10MPH.

OBD2 monitors can help you reduce your fuel spend by targetting instances of speeding that could be wasting fuel and raising your fleet operating costs.

Fuel cards and OBD2 monitors – a natural partnership

Integrating OBD2 monitoring alongside your existing fuel card or fuel receipt tracking system provides far great fuel management benefits than fuel receipt tracking on its own.  In addition to saving money on fuel tracking these fuel wasting driver behaviors can also reduce your vehicle maintenance expenses through reduced wear and tear and for those who worry about climate change your fleet will be emitting far less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.   So everyone benefits!

Learn how Fleet Genius can work alongside your existing fuel managament system to improve theaccuracy of your odometer data, help reduce fuel expense through idle time reduction and speed tracking.

photo credit: Brenda Dahiana Blanco via photopin cc