Transportation Case Study:
How Eagle County cut fleet costs and fuel consumption
Information gathering is essential for efficiency gains
If you measure it, you can manage it.
Eagle County’s first step to fleet efficiency was to conduct a utilization study. The study, conducted in 2006 by Eagle County Fleet Manager Gusty Kanakis and his team, used spreadsheets and existing fleet management software to run a month-by-month report on miles driven, fuel expenses, routine maintenance and repairs.
Owners of small fleets can manage this information with careful spreadsheet-based record keeping. Fleet software can make the job a lot easier.
Fleet management programs can track billing, schedule preventative maintenance, account for the mechanic’s time, issue work orders, electronically import fuel use and cost data, and more. Using an automated program to manage service, repairs and fuel use can save significant administrative time and expense.
With about 300 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment in the Eagle County fleet, the county uses a fleet management program called FASTER, provided by CCG Systems Inc. of Norfolk, Va. FASTER is designed for fleets of 200 vehicles or more, and 90 percent of its users are government fleets. Approximate licensing cost for five user work stations: $49,000 startup cost, plus around $7,400 for each subsequent year.
Owners of smaller fleets can use software packages offering varying levels of sophistication. One recommended option is RTA fleet management software provided by Ron Turley Associates of Phoenix, Ariz.
Gaining fleet efficiency through better operations
Eagle County’s utilization study identified two low-use vehicles in the fleet: one assigned to building inspectors and one assigned to information technology. With offices fairly close together, the fleet manager suggested they share one vehicle, and use a hybrid for that shared use.
Side benefit: Efficiency changes can be well-received when participants see the benefits. In this case, the shared vehicle freed up about $5,000 a year in expenses for each department’s budget.
Gaining fleet efficiency by using hybrid vehicle technology
In March 2007, Eagle County purchased 20 Toyota Prius hybrid cars, making a strong statement for environmental leadership and responsibility. The new cars replaced half the county’s light-vehicle fleet, and use half the fuel of the vehicles they replaced. The fuel savings alone to the county is estimated at more than $21,000 a year.
“We have a moral and ethical obligation to do everything we can to protect our environment. Converting our fleet is just one way to do our part and live our values.”
-- Eagle County Commissioner
Eagle County purchased the vehicles at a discount by using the state bid process. The county also received a $3,013-per-vehicle rebate from the Colorado Department of Revenue. These benefits, plus fuel savings and a higher resale value, are expected to offset the cost premium for purchasing the Prius instead of a standard sedan.
Gaining fleet efficiency by myth-busting
Eagle County’s vehicle efficiency proposals resulted in objections from some users. Instead of seeing that as a roadblock, the fleet staff looked for solutions. For example:
Myth: Front-wheel drive and hybrid vehicles don’t handle well in snowy conditions, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential.
Fact: Mounting Michelin X-ice snow tires on these efficient vehicles gave them more traction than a studded snow tire, while maintaining all-season handling on dry pavement. Drivers noted the safer handling of the Prius with X-ice snow tires, confidently driving the passes on I-70 during a snowstorm. PIC
Extra tip: Each Prius and front-wheel drive vehicle is equipped with a snow shovel in case plowing blocks the car in.
Gaining fleet efficiency by using the right vehicle for the job
Eagle County’s utilization study identified a department where staff drove 4x4 Dodge Durango SUVs 10,000 miles a month for administrative tasks. After switching to Toyota Priuses, the department is saving about $1,500 per month on gasoline for each SUV replaced.
For years, the county’s facilities maintenance staff used full size pickups with expensive after-market truck boxes for tools and equipment. Now the maintenance staff is converting to service vans with customized storage racks inside. The service vans get double the fuel economy of the old trucks.
Side benefit: Tools and equipment stored in the minivans stay dry and clean, with no need to clear snow and ice away.
Gaining fleet efficiency by using a motor pool for low-efficiency vehicles
Pickup trucks are still part of the Eagle County fleet, as they’re still the best vehicle for certain jobs.
Purchasing policy: Departments requesting to purchase a pickup must prove the need before the purchase can be approved. Pickups approved for purchase usually have diesel engines to improve mileage.
Motor pool: For county departments that don’t need a pickup year-round, the county motor pool has several available for check-out when a pickup is necessary. Departments can also borrow a pickup from neighboring departments.
Using a robust fleet maintenance service to make money
Eagle County holds fleet maintenance service contracts with state agencies operating in the county, such as state parks and state patrol. Revenue from this work helps offset the cost of employing trained staff and operating the fleet maintenance facility.
Service contracts cover standard preventive maintenance and repairs and specialized jobs such as body repair and paint. Agencies from as far as Pitkin County use this service.
In this section
Reducing fuel consumption cuts carbon emissions and saves money. These pages offer proven means to reduce fuel consumption in government fleets.
Real-world examples of fleet efficiency:
Transportation Case Studies
How Eagle County cut fleet costs and fuel consumption
Vehicle Fleets in the Clean Energy Economy workshop
Feb. 5, 2010
Archive of presentations and meeting materials
Eagle County fleet statistics, 2008
145 pieces of heavy equipment
146 light duty vehicles
(cars and trucks)
Annual total miles traveled:
Vehicle service contracts with other agencies: 232 vehicles covered (as of late 2009)
(Colorado State Parks, Colorado State Patrol, Pitkin County)
Eagle County fleet savings
Total gasoline savings,
2008 vs. 2007:
(primarily light-duty vehicles)
2007 gasoline consumption: 118,290 gallons
2008 gasoline consumption: 104,957 gallons
2007 gasoline spending: $355,000 (estimated)
2008 gasoline spending: $350,000 (includes high summer spike of $4+)