Pandemic’s Disruption Keeps 2020 Fleet Operating Costs Flat


Calendar-year 2020 has got the dubious distinction of being probably the most calamitous 12 months into the reputation for fleet management. Although disruptive, the pandemic did have a positive impact that kept CY-2020 fleet operating costs flat in comparison to 2019.

The lockdowns, shelter-at-home mandates, and widespread use of remote working produced a dramatic decrease running a business task and, subsequently, company mileage, which caused fuel consumption to drop, tires to go longer, and upkeep costs to remain flat.

These, as well as other findings, had been revealed in Automotive Fleet’s 28th yearly operating price study, and therefore are centered 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 survey is based on the analysis of real operating expenses incurred by 961,702 automobiles operated by commercial fleets, which are handled by these eight fleet management organizations.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

The below analysis of gas prices trends is the first of a five-part assessment of fleet working costs, which will feature four extra in-depth articles each dedicated to a particular fleet operating cost segment:

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

Low Demand Flattens fuel expenses

the biggest fleet running expense is gas, which typically represents roughly 60% of most operating expenses. However, the decreased kilometers driven by fleets throughout the pandemic had been the number 1 element causing maintaining fuel costs flat in 2020.

Wood -


“The 2020 calendar-year began with oil rates staying steady with late 2019 levels; but whenever COVID-19 hit, costs significantly decreased. To protect the safety of the public, many states went into lockdown, which had an immediate impact on numerous fleets and the overall economy,” said Lindsay Wood, item supervisor for Wheels. “When states begun to open back up, we saw a reliable upsurge in need, which helped drive prices back up to near pre-pandemic amounts however they haven’t completely recovered. The Power Information Management (EIA) expects that gasoline prices will decrease through remaining year.”

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

One key factor driving down fuel prices on pump had been the general decline in gas usage both in the retail and fleet areas.

“Overall, the fee per gallon is down nearly 15% year-over-year and gas usage is down nearly 18per cent. We see a bigger effect to the clients that are within the retail product sales sectors versus the production industry being more straight impacted,” said Justin Dudeck, item director, analytics, consulting and transformation for LeasePlan United States Of America.

Dudeck -


Inspite of the initial discounted of fuel during the pump, overall fleet fuel economy (mpg) reduced centered on information captured by onboard car telematic products.

“Interestingly, and counter-productive to a price mitigation strategy, we now have unearthed that the pandemic has led to overall lower gas economy. There are two good reasons for this,” said John Wuich, vice president of strategic consulting services for Donlen. “First, the mix of automobiles on your way since March shifted toward more service-type vehicles. These vans and vehicles generally have reduced gas economy than passenger fleet vehicles, a lot more of that have been grounded. Additionally, motor idle per cent has actually increased within numerous fleets, as more employees are using the car as an office and method of social distancing. With a few brand new vehicles equipped with a hot spot, our company is finding that the car engine needs to be on to allow the vehicle’s system to be used, trying to further increase idle percent.”

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

In a variety of ways the declining price of fuel coincided with the economic shutdown to “bend the curve” of the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent rising costs coincided with the increased company activity once the lockdowns had been lifted.

Wuich -


“Fuel rates were a synchronous indicator the economy with this pandemic 12 months. That is, rates fell quickly as COVID distribute and companies power down. And cost volatility closely followed a volatile financial recovery,” said Wuich of Donlen.

Making an identical observation ended up being Enterprise Fleet Management. “Prior to COVID-19, fuel rates was reasonably flat not surprisingly before dropping to historic lows. The total amount of 2020 has allowed fuel costs to go back to stable levels and experience modest development,” said Mark Atchley, senior supply string supervisor for Enterprise Fleet Management.

 - Data: Automotive Fleet

Information: Automotive Fleet

In a reaction 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 decrease in general fuel consumption.

Atchley -


The overwhelming most businesses had been happily surprised that corporate efficiency didn’t suffer when the most their employees began working from home. In addition, many workers embraced the idea of working at home.

“Stay-at-home instructions have experienced a direct effect on fuel consumption and so fuel prices. As individuals conduct business at home with virtual meetings and events, their vehicles are moving dramatically less,” said Steven Donckers, manager, solution center for LeasePlan USA.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

Lower fuel usage and reduced individual need were the catalysts triggering lower rates during the pump.

Donckers -


“Demand ended up being driven straight down by stay-at-home requests rolling out throughout the nation in February-March, specially concerning ended up being fleets typically roll into peak season of need around April. Fleets have benefited from reduced at-the-pump expenses in 2020, however with lower utilization, profit loss within fleets have no question had a bigger impact in which fleets were not able to run at full or anticipated capability,” said Emily Candib, manager – fleet products for Merchants Fleet. “Also, with greater regularity this season, some fleets may also be reviewing choices for fuel hedging than in previous years and additionally more are seriously reviewing opportunities to house gas in bulk on-site to dispense for cars that run away from just one yard location.”

While gas usage declined for most fleets, it increased for any other fleets, specifically those designated as crucial businesses.

Candib -


“The pandemic forced many companies to suspend operations and also as you can imagine, with most fleet cars parked for a few time frame, gas usage definitely dropped,” stated Andy Hall, manager, gas & GMS items for ARI. “Conversely, for some businesses, specially essential service and last-mile distribution fleets, kilometers driven jumped to near record highs and their fuel prices likely more than doubled. So, as the price of fuel it self remained fairly consistent throughout the year, how the pandemic impacted an organization undoubtedly influenced its overall fuel spend.”

While fuel costs were reasonably stable for the past years after earlier years of ongoing price volatility, some saw a reemergence of volatility as fuel costs reacted to the pandemic.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

“A big difference in 2020 when compared with 2019 is merely the volatile nature of fuel costs, mostly influenced by the global oil pact negotiations at the beginning of the year and used straight away by the pandemic. This volatility, coupled by equally volatile changes in fleet mileage and automobile use put fleet planning in some companies on hold making forecasting gas invest particularly challenging,” said Wuich of Donlen.

Forecast of fuel expenses in 2021

The cost of gas is impacted by many variables making predictions hard. But there are particular variables being in play today, makes it possible for us to extrapolate and expand those trend lines in to the next calendar-year and interpret feasible results.

Hall -


“With demand still somewhat lower than historic averages and continued supply to hold through to 2021, prices continues to stay reasonably flat throughout the remainder of 2020 and into 2021,” stated Candib of Merchants Fleet. “Traditional need likely to grab in May-June and raise prices and pressure on refineries to keep pace.”

The price tag on gas is very much indeed affected by supply-and-demand dynamics, that are forecast to enhance in CY-2021.

“We anticipate you will see a gradual increase in gas price in 2021 as demand increases and production materials are paid down to the new normal demands,” stated Dudeck of LeasePlan United States Of America.

But whole portions associated with macro-economy continue to be hobbled, specifically the aviation and automobile leasing companies, this paid down consumption will put downward stress on crude oil costs.

 - Information: Automotive Fleet

Data: Automotive Fleet

“We anticipate oil markets to stay volatile as a result of slow economic recovery. Our company is nevertheless seeing constraints in travel from consumers and lots of companies are maintaining workers remote. It has led to a decreased need in fuel and will carry on in the event that pandemic worsens this cold weather,” stated Wood of Wheels.

Wuich -


Another reasons why it is hard to forecast fuel prices is because prices characteristics tend to be dictated at a bigger geopolitical level.

“Geopolitical tensions are low; but that may change quickly and negatively effect fuel supply and demand,” said Atchley of Enterprise Fleet Management. “The Organization regarding the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will more than likely continue tries to sharply increase fuel expenses through production cuts. However, we expect fuel prices to continue experiencing modest growth in 2021 and remain below 2018 and 2019 amounts.”

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