Talk to the average fleet manager on going green, and they will probably immediately think about the costs of meeting emission requirements and using a specialised fleet management product to do so.
"The truth is that going green can reduce costs incurred by a fleet," says Dr David Molapo, Head of Fleet Management at Standard Bank South Africa. "South Africa's interest in green fleet solutions can be gauged by the fact that more than 500 companies with over 40 000 vehicles are now reported on to customers using the Standard Bank ECO2Fleet product."
"There is no doubt that the world is becoming more concerned about preserving the environment and reducing the damage caused by fuel emissions. The uptake of ECO2Fleet locally confirms that this trend is also reaching fruition in South Africa," says Dr Molapo.
Although several fleet managers of multi-national companies had taken up ECO2Fleet because of the fleet emission reporting required by their overseas parent companies, other companies had done so because they realised that the introduction of emission taxes was looming in South Africa.
The adoption of an appropriate green fleet management package had therefore become part of a corporate strategy to get fleets operating at optimal levels before a carbon tax, scheduled for 2015, is introduced.
"It is interesting to note that some fleet operators and managers erroneously believe that monitoring their vehicles and making fleets more environmentally friendly will add substantially to their costs.
"Having road-tested ECO2Fleet on Standard Bank Group's own fleet of more than 1 000 vehicles, and having examined the results, we can refute this totally," says Dr Molapo.
By applying the ECO2Fleet system, Standard Bank had been able to identify which of the vehicles being surveyed exceeded emission norms, from day one. The fleet team were also able to measure and evaluate the claimed emissions achieved by motor manufacturers and consider vehicles on a realistic 'fit for purpose' basis.
"These measures have enabled Standard Bank's fleet managers to introduce programmes that will see some vehicles phased out of the fleet so that they can be replaced by more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.
"Ultimately, when it is considered that 42 months is the average lifespan of a fleet vehicle in South Africa, Standard Bank's fleet management team will be ideally placed to greet any new emissions taxes with a fleet where vehicles have been matched to the tasks they are needed for.
"Cost benefits, that became apparent through fuel and maintenance savings after the introduction of ECO2Fleet, will then be maximised through tax savings. Side benefits as far as costs go have also been achieved by evaluating driver habits and, where necessary, introducing training to assist drivers whose ECO2Fleet records have revealed that their vehicles exceed the national average for their class of vehicle," says Dr Molapo. "Applying fuel management principles and scheduling regular maintenance added to a reduction in operating costs".
A major benefit of ECO2Fleet has been a reduction of carbon emissions by a respectable 16.7% during the last 12 months on Standard Bank's fleet, as evaluated by the system, which adheres to the internationally accepted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, the internationally recognised standard for corporate accounting and reporting of GHG emissions.
Those who believed that alternate technologies and specialist fleet management packages focused on the environment are temporary fads should look to international research for independent confirmation that major change in the automotive world is imminent.
Recent international research has indicated that worldwide sales of light duty hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles could represent about 7% of the total light duty vehicle market.
"South Africa may adopt these trends later than some other countries, but in the meantime there is no doubt that there will be an increasing swing towards more economic, environmentally friendly vehicles. Forward thinking South African companies, operating fleets, will be early adopters of cost-saving technologies and will lead the way for all South Africans."
"As one of the country's leading providers of fleet management services, Standard Bank will play a part in reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on our environment. Moreover, it is our aim to provide our fleet management customers with real value through our tailor-made fleet management products, including ECO2Fleet, enabling them to operate as efficiently as possible," says Dr Molapo.
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