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Is mileage the best measure of vehicle utilization? Not anymore.

Some fleets look at the odometer as the gold standard measure of utilization. For example: if a vehicle went 800 miles in a month, and fleet policy dictates it must meet a minimum of 1,000 miles per month, it is considered under-utilized. But is it really?

Odometers are crucial metric for many reasons, but when you really want to drill down and get a clear view of your fleet’s utilization, there are much more precise metrics to look at. If the odometer is all you’ve got to measure utilization, you’re still better off than many fleets. But looking at how often the vehicle is used will give you a much better look at how many vehicles you need.

By just knowing what your total fleet utilization rate is, you don’t have the information you need to properly adjust the size of the fleet. For example, if you know your fleet utilization rate is at 60%, what type of vehicle should you eliminate? Is it a pickup truck? Is it a mini-van? How about a passenger vehicle? You need specifics about the utilization of each type of vehicle at each location.

But before you start analyzing your fleet metrics, it’s important to start by clearly understanding what your metrics should be telling you. And that is: Do you have the right quantity and types of vehicles available at the right location and at the right time?

Here’s what we recommend: Whatever number you look at, look at it first by each location, then by each class of vehicle, then drill down and look at each individual vehicle. If you have the right tools, you can get the data you need to make money-saving decisions. FleetCommander reports provide utilization metrics such as:

  • Percentage of vehicles used per day by class of vehicle
  • Percentage of days each specific vehicle is used during an interval of time (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Trips per day per vehicle
  • Percentage of miles traveled using alternative fuels
  • Percentage of downtime due to maintenance during an interval of time (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Number of 100% utilization days during an interval of time (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Amount of POV mileage reimbursement during an interval of time (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Number of required outside rentals during an interval of time (e.g. weekly, monthly)
  • Number of unfilled vehicle requests

Each one of these reports offers a wealth of information about how well your fleet is utilized, and gives you accurate data to use when making fleet size and composition decisions. When you look at the data, there are some key points to remember:

  • If you never turn anyone away, most likely you have too many vehicles. We understand from a customer service standpoint, you don’t like the idea of turning people away. But from a bottom line standpoint, remember: what are those extra vehicles costing you each year? Could you consider supplementing with rentals or personal vehicle use?
  • Vehicle usage generally has cycles in data. A university, for example may have peak demand when school is in session. If they only looked at data for the summer months, they may eliminate vehicles that are actually needed during the school year, and vice versa. Consider looking at data over a whole year to get a clearer picture of true utilization statistics.
  • Use historical data to back up your requests for more vehicles. If last month you turned two people away who needed sedans every week, and you can show this trend over a period of months, then you can compare costs of adding a vehicle versus what you’ve paid in POV reimbursements.
  • Use data-driven policy dictate vehicle usage. Our customer the City of Stamford had vehicles sitting idle while people asked for more. Fleet Maintenance Manager Mike Scacco tells us: “We had no accountability or hard data to understand which of the 80 vehicles that the departments used were needed and which ones weren’t. And, no one wanted to share vehicles. The general consensus was that we actually needed more cars to meet the needs of the departments, but with dust on the windshields, I didn’t think that was right.” So the city created a fleet policy requiring people to share, took the best vehicles from their fleet and created an automated motor pool using our system. Once they collected usage data, they determined they could reduce the number of vehicles in their fleet to 29, sell off the underutilized 51 vehicles, and save hundreds of thousands of in replacement cost avoidance alone. 5-year cost savings for the City of Stamford is more $1-million. (For more on how they achieved this savings, download the entire City of Stamford Case Study.)

If you are still unsure about how well your fleet vehicles are utilized, let us help you understand your data by scheduling a no-obligation with our fleet experts.