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FLEET SPEAK: 14 June 2011 - A way of gauging customer demands

Date: 14 June 2011   |   Author:

Paul Barker is editor of BusinessCar

Europcar's MD Ken McCall made an interesting point to me about fuel gauges when we chatted recently, which in effect was a comment on the trust, or lack of, that can exist between customers and daily rental suppliers.

Allow me to explain: the way modern fuel gauges work, it's possible to brim a car with fuel, and then drive sometimes as much as 20 or 30 miles without the gauge moving from full. It's almost like a game, seeing how far you can drive without it showing.

Which is where the problems start because the client hands the car back showing with the gauge reading full, only for the rental company to then fit in five litres of fuel and bill the client accordingly. It's a tricky issue for rental firms because extra charges are difficult for customers to swallow, as are extra costs for rental firms.

Ken made the not unreasonable point that rental firms are the biggest single customer for most car brands, and if there's something available that would make the customer experience better, then why hasn't any car maker addressed the issue?

It's a good question. How difficult would it be to have a fuel gauge that proves exactly how much fuel is in the tank? I initially dismissed it as a moot point because of the limited cases where that would come in handy, but Ken's point that rental firms are the biggest customers the world over for many brands is a good one. How much easier and, more importantly, transparent would rental be if such a small issue as an accurate fuel gauge was cleared up, once and for all?

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