As a whole, our planet continues to be in a state of environmental crisis, the severity of which is growing worse each day. Although the responsibility falls on all individuals collectively to make a difference and safeguard the environment, business owners in the transport and logistics sector can have a real impact when addressing their own emissions.
The reason for this is that transportation is inextricably linked to environmental impact. In particular, the transport sector is the primary emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), with nearly a quarter (24%) of the UK’s total contributions being constituted therein. Therefore, it is imperative that more sustainable practices are not just encouraged, but also enacted before the situation becomes irrevocably detrimental.
Regarding this matter, it’s often implied that switching to electric vehicles (EVs) is the only feasible alternative for fleet managers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. However, while fleet electrification and its applications are unmistakably beneficial here, there do exist other alternatives for those cases where a complete overhaul isn’t currently possible.
Namely, the usage of fuels which entail a lowered degree of environmental impact, both concerning their production and the emissions they give off. These comprise what’s known as alternative fuels, and they can lead to a host of benefits for fleets & businesses alike. Followingly, we’ve put together this piece which covers alternative fuels for fleet vehicles in the hope that you can better identify your options when it comes to sustainable fleet management.
Types of alternative fuels for fleet vehicles
As we mentioned, a lot of fleet managers today are opting to transition to a greener fleet, specifically, a fleet which consists only of EVs. This represents a natural consequence of modern technological advancements. The use of electricity as a fuel not only cuts out GHG emissions altogether, but it has likewise proven to come with additional benefits too. Indeed, as well as lessening a fleet’s carbon footprint, the benefits of an electric fleet include reductions in overall operating costs alongside improvements in productivity & efficiency.
As such, it’s easy to see that electricity is now the most common alternative fuel for vehicle fleets, to the point where internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles appear to be becoming progressively outdated. In fact, the UK Government is actively promoting the widespread use of EVs by making those obtained via Benefit in Kind 100% tax deductible for the first year, directly in order to reduce GHG emissions.
Having said this, it would be remiss not to admit that it’s unviable for the majority of businesses to make considerable monetary investments into the switch to EVs immediately after seeing the benefits. But, this doesn’t go to say that these businesses can’t make cost-effective, short-term efforts towards sustainability. There are non-electric types of alternative fuels for fleet vehicles which substantially reduce GHG emissions. Fleet managers can consider using:
- Biodiesel and renewable diesel
Biodiesel and renewable diesel are two different types of fuel that are typically made from either vegetable oil, waste residue, used cooking oils, or animal fats. The main difference lies in their properties and how each is processed, but both represent an organic alternative to fossil fuel diesel and are generally suited to commercial fleets.
- Sulphur-free fuels
Fuels such as petrol & diesel which contain no - or a very low amount of - sulphur increase the functionality of catalytic converters in on-road vehicles, essentially meaning that they produce less carbon emissions. The reliable success of zero-sulphur fuels has led to their continued use in fleet vehicles for over a decade.
- Natural gas fuel
Natural gas fuels are produced from decaying organic materials, they must either be compressed or liquified before they can be utilised for transportation purposes. Natural gas fuels intrinsically give off less GHG than their counterparts and have seen use in all kinds of fleet vehicles, such as HGVs.
What are the benefits of alternative fuels for fleets?
From an environmental standpoint, the benefits of choosing alternative fuels are evident. What may surprise you, however, is that there are an array of further inherent benefits of reducing your fleet’s CO2 emissions. For instance, lowering your carbon footprint means:
- Lowered expenditure
Rather shockingly, environmentally-friendly alternative fuels are more cost-effective than petrol and diesel. Consequently, they are beneficial from both a sustainable and a financial perspective. Relatively, they are just as accessible too, given that they are produced domestically, as opposed to coming from a foreign source.
- Improved vehicle performance
Alternative fuels like biodiesel have been shown to improve vehicle performance by how they can generate higher levels of torque. In certain weather conditions, this is essential and can additionally result in less maintenance work being required.
- Access to Government incentives
As per how the purchasing of EVs comes with Government incentives, i.e., in that they are tax free for the first year, similar benefits are applied to those who use alternative fuels. Fundamentally, Government incentives work to offset any resultant initial expense.
- Heightened reputation
If your business’s fleet actively contributes efforts towards sustainability, this will attach a positive image to your brand, virtually making it more attractive to both potential consumers and those new drivers who have an enhanced degree of environmental awareness.
The efficient & sustainable future of fleet management
Sustainability in fleet management isn’t just a trend, it’s a principle that will determine the future of the transportation industry as a whole. Owing to the urgency of the environmental situation we are currently experiencing, switching to alternative fuels and EVs has become a global necessity. Pertinently, the sooner your business adopts a greener approach to fleet management, and subsequently has a larger pool of relevant fleet data quicker, the better.
We at MICHELIN Connected Fleet share this inclusive vision and are working to promote its actualisation. But furthermore, we understand that organisations may be hesitant to make the transition to different methods at first, and so that’s why we have developed solutions which, as well as being more environmentally-friendly, also signal unprecedented improvements in a fleet’s operational efficiency. Sustainability doesn’t have to come at the expense of higher costs and reductions in productivity, rather, it is something which coincides with and secures these vital attributes.
If you’re interested in making the switch by implementing greener fleet procedures, then be sure to make an enquiry into what we can do for you today. Thank you for reading, we hope that this piece has shown you the comprehensive benefits of alternative fuels for fleet vehicles and encouraged your cooperation in the ongoing effort towards sustainability in fleet management. For related material, feel free to browse our resources center.