Pandemic’s Disruption Keeps 2020 Fleet Operating Expenses Flat


Calendar-year 2020 gets the questionable difference to be probably the most calamitous year into the history of fleet administration. Although disruptive, the pandemic did have actually a positive impact that kept CY-2020 fleet operating costs flat compared to 2019.

The lockdowns, shelter-at-home mandates, and widespread adoption of remote working produced a dramatic decrease in business task and, in turn, business mileage, which caused fuel usage to drop, tires to last longer, and maintenance costs to keep flat.

These, and also other findings, were revealed in Automotive Fleet’s 28th annual running price study, and tend to be predicated on information provided by eight study partners:

  • ARI
  • Donlen
  • Element Fleet Management.
  • Emkay
  • Enterprise Fleet Management
  • LeasePlan USA
  • Merchants Fleet
  • Wheels Inc.

This year’s study is based on the analysis of real running costs incurred by 961,702 vehicles operated by commercial fleets, that are managed by these eight fleet administration organizations.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

The below analysis of fuel rates styles may be the firstly a five-part evaluation of fleet operating expenses, that will feature four extra in-depth articles each dedicated to a specific fleet working cost section:

  • Fleet maintenance
  • Replacement tires
  • PM styles
  • Warranty recovery

Low Demand Flattens fuel costs

the biggest fleet running expense is gas, which traditionally represents more or less 60% of all working expenses. However, the decreased kilometers driven by fleets during the pandemic ended up being the # 1 factor causing maintaining fuel costs flat in 2020.

Wood -


“The 2020 calendar-year began with oil prices remaining constant with late 2019 levels; but whenever COVID-19 hit, costs dramatically decreased. To safeguard the safety for the public, many states went into lockdown, which had a primary impact on numerous fleets therefore the general economy,” said Lindsay Wood, item manager for Wheels. “whenever states begun to open backup, we saw a stable increase in need, which helped drive costs back up to near pre-pandemic amounts however they haven’t completely recovered. The Power Suggestions Administration (EIA) expects that gas costs will decrease through remaining year.”

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

One key factor driving down fuel prices at the pump was the overall decline in gas consumption both in the retail and fleet markets.

“Overall, the fee per gallon is down nearly 15percent year-over-year and fuel usage is down nearly 18percent. We see a bigger effect to your customers being within the retail product sales sectors versus the production industry being more directly impacted,” said Justin Dudeck, product director, analytics, consulting and change for LeasePlan United States Of America.

Dudeck -


Despite the initial cheap of gas at pump, overall fleet gas economy (mpg) reduced according to data captured by onboard vehicle telematic products.

“Interestingly, and counter-productive to an expense mitigation strategy, we’ve discovered that the pandemic has triggered overall lower fuel economy. There are two main reasons behind this,” said John Wuich, vice president of strategic consulting solutions for Donlen. “First, the mix of cars traveling since March shifted toward more service-type cars. These vans and vehicles generally have reduced gas economy than passenger fleet cars, a lot more of which were grounded. Also, engine idle % has actually risen within numerous fleets, as more workers are employing the automobile as an office and means of social distancing. With brand new vehicles loaded with a hot spot, we are finding that the vehicle engine must be on in order for the vehicle’s system to be utilized, working to further increase idle per cent.”

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

In a variety of ways the declining price of gas coincided with all the economic shutdown to “bend the curve” associated with spread of COVID-19 and subsequent rising costs coincided with all the increased business activity whilst the lockdowns were lifted.

Wuich -


“Fuel costs were a synchronous indicator for the economy during this pandemic year. Which, costs fell quickly as COVID distribute and organizations power down. And cost volatility closely then followed a volatile financial recovery,” said Wuich of Donlen.

Making a similar observation was Enterprise Fleet Management. “Prior to COVID-19, fuel prices was fairly flat needlessly to say before dropping to historic lows. The total amount of 2020 has allowed fuel expenses to return to stable levels and experience modest development,” stated Mark Atchley, senior supply string manager for Enterprise Fleet Management.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

In a reaction to the lockdowns and people’s concern about contagion, virtual meetings arose as an option to in-person conferences, eliminating the requirement to drive to these meetings, causing the decline in general gas consumption.

Atchley -


The overwhelming majority of companies had been happily surprised that business efficiency failed to suffer when the majority of their employees started a home based job. Additionally, many workers embraced the thought of working from home.

“Stay-at-home requests experienced an effect on gas usage and so fuel prices. As people conduct business from home with digital conferences and activities, their automobiles are moving quite a bit less,” stated Steven Donckers, manager, service center for LeasePlan United States Of America.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

Lower gas consumption and decreased user need were the catalysts triggering lower rates at pump.

Donckers -


“Demand ended up being driven straight down by stay-at-home requests rolling away over the nation in February-March, particularly concerning had been fleets typically roll into top period of need around April. Fleets have actually benefited through the reduced at-the-pump expenses in 2020, but with reduced utilization, profit loss within fleets don’t have any doubt had a bigger effect in which fleets are not capable run at complete or expected capacity,” said Emily Candib, manager – fleet products for Merchants Fleet. “Also, more often this year, some fleets are also reviewing choices for fuel hedging than in prior years not to mention more are seriously reviewing opportunities to house fuel in bulk on-site to dispense for automobiles that operate away from an individual garden location.”

While fuel usage declined for several fleets, it increased for other fleets, particularly those designated as important businesses.

Candib -


“The pandemic forced many organizations to suspend operations so when imaginable, with many fleet cars parked for many time period, gas usage definitely dropped,” stated Andy Hall, supervisor, gas & GMS items for ARI. “Conversely, for many organizations, especially crucial solution and last-mile delivery fleets, kilometers driven jumped to near record highs and their fuel prices likely increased significantly. Therefore, whilst the price of fuel it self stayed fairly constant over summer and winter, how the pandemic impacted a company certainly influenced its general gas spend.”

While fuel costs happen reasonably stable the previous many years after earlier in the day years of ongoing cost volatility, some saw a reemergence of volatility as fuel prices reacted to the pandemic.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

“A big difference in 2020 than 2019 is merely the volatile nature of fuel prices, mostly influenced by the worldwide oil pact negotiations early in the year and adopted straight away by the pandemic. This volatility, combined by equally volatile changes in fleet mileage and vehicle usage put fleet preparation in some industries on hold and made forecasting fuel invest especially challenging,” stated Wuich of Donlen.

Forecast of fuel costs in 2021

The price of gas is relying on numerous variables making predictions hard. But there are specific factors being in play today, allowing united states to extrapolate and extend those trend lines into the next calendar-year and interpret feasible outcomes.

Hall -


“With need nevertheless significantly lower than historical averages and proceeded supply to hold right through to 2021, prices continues to stay relatively flat through the entire sleep of 2020 and into 2021,” said Candib of Merchants Fleet. “Traditional need anticipated to get in May-June and raise rates and force on refineries to help keep pace.”

The cost of gas is certainly much impacted by supply-and-demand dynamics, that are forecast to boost in CY-2021.

“We anticipate there will be a gradual rise in gas price in 2021 as demand increases and production materials are paid off on new normal needs,” stated Dudeck of LeasePlan USA.

However, entire segments regarding the macro-economy continue to be hobbled, particularly the aviation and automobile rental companies, this paid down consumption will put downward stress on crude oil rates.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

“We expect oil areas to remain volatile because of slow financial recovery. We’re still seeing constraints in travel from customers and lots of businesses are maintaining workers remote. It’s led to a low need in gas and can carry on in the event that pandemic worsens this winter,” stated Wood of Wheels.

Wuich -


Another good reason why it is difficult to forecast fuel costs is basically because pricing dynamics in many cases are dictated at a bigger geopolitical level.

“Geopolitical tensions are currently low; but that could alter quickly and adversely impact fuel supply and need,” stated Atchley of Enterprise Fleet Management. “The Organization associated with the Petroleum Exporting nations (OPEC) will more than likely continue attempts to sharply increase fuel costs through manufacturing cuts. But we anticipate fuel expenses to keep experiencing modest growth in 2021 and stay below 2018 and 2019 levels.”

Latest posts