22 Mar 17

U.S. Fleet Management companies on green targets and CAFE standards

What do fleet management companies in the U.S. think of green targets in general, and CAFE standards in particular? We asked the top executives of two leading fleet management companies: Dan Frank, President of Wheels Inc. and Chris Conroy, CEO of ARI.

How do corporates take into account CAFE in setting up their fleet programme and selecting their fleet vehicles?
Dan Frank, Wheels Inc.: “Improving fuel economy has reduced cost and emissions for many of our clients. Some have accelerated replacements to take advantage of this sooner. Many have changed selectors to provide smaller, lighter vehicles. Many new vehicles come with fuel-saving technology that can be turned on and off. We are working with clients to understand the impact of this”.
Chris Conroy, ARI: “Fleets want to develop an overall strategic approach, allowing for optimal TCO while sensibly incorporating sustainable strategies. We counsel them to first define their objectives, then come up with a realistic plan to reduce emissions via measurable targets.  CAFE standards really are just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Best practices also help lower your fleet’s overall carbon footprint”.
How would the Trump Administration’s plans to change CAFE affect business?
DF: “The Trump Administration is a bit unpredictable, but it is clear they are skeptical on human impact on climate change, and would like to reduce regulations. They feel Obama rushed the review of the 2025 fuel economy standards and would like to re-open the evaluation”.
CC: “Regardless of whatever changes are proposed, our advice to clients remains the same, because it is based on existing best practices. Increasing fuel economy just makes good business sense, even at current lower fuel prices. That means having a strategic plan, optimising the existing fleet, selecting the right vehicles for the job, deploying driver behaviour programmes and reviewing the data to ensure targets are met”.
How would softer CAFE standards impact the fleet industry in the U.S.?
DF: “It would give OEMs more options to meet demand. If customers want to pay for more efficient vehicles, manufacturers will build them. But with fuel prices relatively low, some OEMs might choose to build larger, more powerful vehicles. Or simply not raise their prices, since fuel-efficient technology is expensive”.
CC: “On fleets, the impact would be indirect, since most of our clients know their own customers care about sustainability. Even if standards change, customer interest in running a best-in-class fleet never changes. California and other states have stricter rules and are major markets, so the auto industry will continue to invest in innovation, regardless of changes to CAFE”.
How can the fleet management industry help the Administration take the right decisions on CAFE?
DF: “We continually educate legislators on the greater safety and fuel-efficiency of company-provided vehicles, telling them it makes sense not to impose unnecessary, counterproductive mandates on fleets”.
CC: “Our perspective has always been to consider the entire fleet: fuel efficiency is just one element, companies also need to focus on maintenance, and getting the most out of their fleet data”.

Authored by: Tim Harrup