Fuel prices, the subject all fleet managers are talking about, and the public alike. It has just got so ridiculous, and expensive for all of us. Prices admittedly have dropped a bit recently, which was a welcome relief, but are still sky-high per litre. As I write this, the average price per litre of petrol is £187.77, this is built up of 99.36p for the petrol, 52.95p of fuel duty and VAT at 30.46p. If only fuel duty was lowered or even removed temporarily – what a difference that would make to all of us.

I do have a moral dilemma about this, as we have trackers fitted in all our vehicles, and this was initially to well, as it says on the box – track the vehicle. But the system is so good, I can drill down into all sorts of information and data. Talking to our fitting company, we can add even more software to the existing trackers. But I find myself asking how much information is too much? Have I become the big brother I never wanted to be? Or am I being the good fleet manager?

 Looking at the data I can see where every driver has been, what time, the speed of the vehicle has been, and it flags up if any speed limits have been broken, there is often a lot “red” on my computer screen. So how much can I investigate, and check, if the vehicle is being used for private use. Many of our vehicles (the vans!) are not allowed to be used for private use, so I have to think about GDPR, as private journeys might be an infringement of the rules, a risk probably not worth taking. With the current tracker system, I can pretty much work out the vehicle’s fuel consumption, which can vary widely between drivers, and the way they drive. The question is, do I start a league table and send it out every month – just for a bit of fun, but knowing some of our drivers, they definitely would not see the funny side.

Casting my mind back to the days before Covid, lockdowns, no holidays or seeing friends and family, the war in Ukraine, the semi-conductor crisis, the shortage in general of parts, the current lack of new vehicles. All these things were so important, but now my main focus is the price of fuel, and how it is damaging our company, and profits, pretty much the same as it is everyone else’s. I get the big boss asking me to cut costs with the fleet, as we have issues passing on rising costs to our customers. We all want a pay rise to cover our personal rising costs with our gas, electric and the ever-increasing food prices. But we can’t have more money because profits are down due to rising costs, so it’s a bit of a brick wall. My colleagues seem to be putting a bit of the blame on me, for their lack of ‘more wages’. What on earth can I do? After all, it’s them spending the money on fuel, not me.

We have one, (most fleet companies have one) the car nobody wants – “the pool car.”

If we were running a pantomime (which sometimes I think we are) then the pool car would not be the ugly sister, it would be a stand-in, as the ugly sister is not ugly enough. Our pool car is a “hand-me-down” not once, but twice. It was ordered by a driver (before my time, I hasten to add) a car that this driver thought was fantastic, before he got it, the worse colour imaginable, he liked it, and shortly after it arrived, he left the company, leaving a permanent reminder of him. So when handed on to the new driver, they hated it and almost refused to drive it. Then I found a “willing volunteer”, a new starter, to take it over. Soon, they too pestered me to get them into a new vehicle, and when I say pestered, I mean pestered, every day, sometimes three times a day. So, this poor, lonely, unloved pool car, remains with us. All drivers dread having a breakdown or accident in case they have to use it, though the thought of the pool car for a few days or weeks, might make them drive a bit more safely? Now there’s an idea! Is this car an embarrassment? Oh yes, it is. More about the pool car in future editions of this diary.

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