4 min read

Small changes to ICE vehicle maintenance and driver habits can help to reduce business fleet emissions

Net zero is the world’s answer to stopping climate change – and everyone has an important role to play in helping to radically reduce our global carbon emissions to meet net zero targets.

In the UK, transport is responsible for 24% of the nation’s total carbon emissions – with road vehicles making up a staggering 91% of this figure. As a result, vehicles are firmly in the spotlight when it comes to reaching net zero – which is why many businesses are focusing on addressing fleet emissions to meet climate-saving targets.

Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) Fleet shares its top tips to help businesses cut down their fleet emissions – beyond making the switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

“The obvious option to significantly reduce fleet emissions – transitioning to EVs – isn’t necessarily the easiest option for every fleet,” explains Emma Loveday, Senior Fleet Consultant at VWFS Fleet.

“Fleets with commercial vehicles may have a more difficult job to transition. In this scenario, there are alternative methods and solutions that can help to reduce fleet vehicles’ tailpipe emissions and consequently, air pollution.”

  1. Ensure regular servicing

Regular vehicle servicing can reduce fleet emissions. One important element of vehicle servicing is having the oil changed. Engine oil cools, cleans, lubricates and prevents engine wear. Changing it frequently will keep the vehicle’s engine running smoothly, helping to reduce its emissions.

Another important part of vehicle servicing is a change of air filter, which can also help to lower emissions. When a vehicle’s air filter becomes clogged, it reduces airflow to the engine, which can cause a range of issues. When an engine isn’t able to ‘breathe’, it can lead to the build-up of dust, debris, pollen and other contaminants, which can increase engine wear and emissions. If vehicles are regularly operating in a dusty environment, such as a building site, the air filters will likely need changing more regularly.

  1. Check tyre pressures

Having the correct tyre pressures increases a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, which in turn reduces its overall carbon footprint and tailpipe emissions. When tyres are under-inflated, they can contribute to increased fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, reducing overall efficiency by up to 10%. Regularly checking tyre pressures can be a quick and easy way to reduce pollution and improve fuel economy.

  1. Plan journeys ahead

Taking some time to plan journeys effectively before travelling can optimise routes, which in turn can help to reduce vehicle mileage, fuel consumption and ultimately emissions. This can also reduce fuel expenditure for businesses.

  1. Stop idling

Idling – leaving a vehicle’s engine running while it’s stationary – is one of the top contributors to air pollution and increased vehicle emissions. In fact, an idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion. While idling often occurs in everyday traffic, there are some scenarios, such as waiting for children outside of school and sitting in gridlock traffic, where idling can be avoided. It should also be noted that, under the Highway Code, drivers can be subject to fines if they leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary for a prolonged period of time on a public road.

There’s evidence that switching an engine off when stationary, or using start-stop technology, can significantly reduce a vehicle’s emissions. Businesses should educate drivers on the impact of unnecessary idling, ensure fleet vehicles incorporate start-stop technology, where possible, and monitor excess idling through vehicle telematics.

  1. Improve driver habits and behaviours

Addressing driver habits and behaviours can also help to improve fuel efficiency. Driver education and training has a key role to play in limiting the environmental impact of poor driving habits, and there are some simple changes drivers can make to improve fuel economy and reduce vehicle emissions:

  • Avoiding harsh braking or accelerating
  • Not rushing through gears – avoiding reaching the upper area of the rev range
  • Reducing mileage through forward journey planning (as above)
  • Avoiding unnecessary idling (as above).

Some in-vehicle telematics devices can alert drivers when braking or accelerating too harshly, offering real-time feedback on driving style to improve driving habits and behaviours.

“The transition to EVs is inevitable, but businesses don’t need to wait until the switch is feasible for every ICE vehicle on their fleet to start addressing its emissions,” continues Emma. “Even small maintenance and driver habit changes can make a significant difference to overall fleet emissions, supporting business’ net zero ambitions and lowering fleet costs.”

If you have a specific question or would simply like to discuss your fleet requirements, please contact us.

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