Pandemic’s Disruption Keeps 2020 Fleet Running Costs Flat


Calendar-year 2020 has got the dubious difference of being the absolute most calamitous year in history of fleet management. Although disruptive, the pandemic did have a confident effect that kept CY-2020 fleet running costs flat in comparison to 2019.

The lockdowns, shelter-at-home mandates, and widespread adoption of remote working created a dramatic decrease in operation activity and, consequently, company mileage, which caused fuel usage to decline, tires to stay longer, and maintenance expenses to stay flat.

These, and also other findings, had been revealed in Automotive Fleet’s 28th yearly running expense survey, and are predicated on data provided by eight study partners:

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

This year’s survey is founded on the analysis of actual running expenses incurred by 961,702 automobiles operated by commercial fleets, that are handled by these eight fleet management companies.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

The below analysis of gas rates styles is the first of a five-part evaluation of fleet operating costs, that may feature four additional in-depth articles each dedicated to a certain fleet working price section:

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

Low Demand Flattens fuel costs

the biggest fleet working cost is gas, which usually represents approximately 60per cent of all running costs. But the decreased miles driven by fleets throughout the pandemic had been the # 1 factor causing maintaining fuel costs flat in 2020.

Wood -


“The 2020 calendar-year began with oil prices remaining steady with late 2019 levels; however, when COVID-19 hit, prices dramatically reduced. To safeguard the security of public, numerous states went into lockdown, which had an immediate effect on many fleets together with general economy,” said Lindsay Wood, item supervisor for Wheels. “When states started to open backup, we saw a steady upsurge in need, which assisted drive rates back up to near pre-pandemic levels but they have not fully restored. The Energy Ideas Management (EIA) expects that gas prices will decrease through the remaining year.”

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

One key factor driving down fuel costs within pump ended up being the entire decline in gas usage in both the retail and fleet areas.

“Overall, the cost per gallon is down almost 15% year-over-year and fuel consumption is down almost 18per cent. We see a bigger impact to the customers being in the retail sales sectors versus the production industry being more straight affected,” said Justin Dudeck, item director, analytics, consulting and change for LeasePlan USA.

Dudeck -


Regardless of the initial lower price of gas during the pump, general fleet gas economy (mpg) reduced centered on data captured by onboard vehicle telematic devices.

“Interestingly, and counter-productive to a price mitigation strategy, we’ve found that the pandemic has triggered general reduced fuel economy. There are two reasons behind this,” stated John Wuich, vice president of strategic consulting services for Donlen. “First, the mixture of automobiles on the road since March shifted toward more service-type cars. These vans and vehicles are apt to have lower fuel economy than passenger fleet cars, more of that have been grounded. Also, motor idle percent has in fact increased within numerous fleets, as more workers are employing the car as an office and method of social distancing. With brand new automobiles loaded with a hot spot, we have been discovering that the automobile engine must certanly be on for the vehicle’s system to be utilized, working to further increase idle per cent.”

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

In many ways the declining cost of fuel coincided utilizing the economic shutdown to “bend the curve” associated with spread of COVID-19 and subsequent rising costs coincided with all the increased company activity as the lockdowns were lifted.

Wuich -


“Fuel costs were a parallel indicator the economy with this pandemic 12 months. That is, prices dropped quickly as COVID distribute and businesses power down. And cost volatility closely then followed a volatile economic data recovery,” stated Wuich of Donlen.

Making an identical observation ended up being Enterprise Fleet Management. “Prior to COVID-19, fuel pricing was relatively flat not surprisingly before dropping to historic lows. The balance of 2020 has permitted fuel prices to come back to stable levels and experience modest growth,” said Mark Atchley, senior supply chain manager for Enterprise Fleet Management.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

In response to the lockdowns and people’s concern about contagion, digital meetings arose instead of in-person meetings, eliminating the necessity to drive to these meetings, causing the decline in overall gas usage.

Atchley -


The overwhelming majority of businesses were amazed that corporate productivity couldn’t suffer if the most of their employees began a home based job. Additionally, many workers embraced the thought of working from home.

“Stay-at-home orders experienced a direct effect on gas consumption and so fuel costs. As individuals conduct business from home with virtual meetings and events, their vehicles are going considerably less,” said Steven Donckers, director, solution center for LeasePlan United States Of America.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

Reduced fuel usage and decreased user demand had been the catalysts triggering lower rates at the pump.

Donckers -


“Demand had been driven down by stay-at-home requests rolling away over the country in February-March, particularly concerning ended up being fleets typically roll into top season of need around April. Fleets have benefited through the lower at-the-pump expenses in 2020, however with lower utilization, profit loss within fleets have no doubt had a larger effect where fleets were not capable operate at full or expected capability,” said Emily Candib, manager – fleet items for Merchants Fleet. “Also, more frequently this present year, some fleets are also reviewing choices for fuel hedging compared to previous years not to mention more are really reviewing possibilities to house fuel in bulk on-site to dispense for vehicles that run out of a single garden location.”

While gas consumption declined for several fleets, it increased for other fleets, specifically those designated as crucial businesses.

Candib -


“The pandemic forced numerous companies to suspend operations so when you can imagine, with many fleet vehicles parked for some time period, gas consumption certainly dropped,” stated Andy Hall, manager, fuel & GMS items for ARI. “Conversely, for some companies, particularly essential service and last-mile distribution fleets, miles driven jumped to near record highs and their fuel prices most likely increased significantly. So, although the cost of fuel it self stayed fairly consistent over summer and winter, the way the pandemic impacted a business truly influenced its overall fuel spend.”

While fuel expenses are reasonably stable the previous several years after early in the day many years of ongoing cost volatility, some saw a reemergence of volatility as fuel costs reacted towards pandemic.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

“A difference in 2020 when compared with 2019 is definitely the volatile nature of fuel costs, mainly relying on the international oil pact negotiations early in the season and followed straight away by the pandemic. This volatility, combined by similarly volatile changes in fleet mileage and vehicle usage placed fleet planning in some companies on hold and made forecasting gas invest particularly challenging,” stated Wuich of Donlen.

Forecast of fuel costs in 2021

The cost of gas is impacted by numerous variables making predictions difficult. But there are particular factors which are in play today, makes it possible for united states to extrapolate and extend those trend lines to the next calendar-year and interpret feasible results.

Hall -


“With need still significantly less than historic averages and continued supply to hold right through to 2021, prices will continue to remain relatively flat through the entire sleep of 2020 and into 2021,” said Candib of Merchants Fleet. “Traditional demand likely to pick up in May-June and raise costs along side stress on refineries to help keep pace.”

The price tag on fuel is certainly much influenced by supply-and-demand characteristics, that are forecast to boost in CY-2021.

“We anticipate you will have a gradual increase in fuel expense in 2021 as demand increases and production materials are reduced towards the brand new normal demands,” said Dudeck of LeasePlan United States Of America.

However, whole sections of the macro-economy continue being hobbled, particularly the aviation and car leasing industries, this reduced usage will put downward stress on crude oil rates.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

“We expect oil markets to remain volatile because of slow economic recovery. We have been still seeing constraints in travel from customers and many companies are keeping employees remote. This has resulted in a low demand in gas and certainly will carry on in the event that pandemic worsens this cold weather,” said Wood of Wheels.

Wuich -


Another good reason why it is hard to forecast fuel costs is really because prices characteristics in many cases are dictated at a much bigger geopolitical degree.

“Geopolitical tensions are currently low; however, that could change quickly and negatively effect gas supply and need,” said Atchley of Enterprise Fleet Management. “The Organization associated with Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will more than likely carry on tries to sharply increase fuel prices through production cuts. But we anticipate fuel expenses to keep experiencing modest development in 2021 and stay below 2018 and 2019 amounts.”

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