On March 1, 2003, in the Chicago area, you could have filled up at Gas City over at Lagrange and Laport in Mokena with unleaded regular for $1.55 a gallon — or you could have done the same at Clark on Lagrange Road between 191st and Laport at $1.55 a gallon. On the other hand, if you wheeled into Shell at 1201 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, you’d have laid out $2.09 a gallon, 54 cents per gallon more for that same unleaded regular.If you were doing your fueling in the San Francisco Bay Area on that same day, you could have slid into Valero on Jackson Street in Hayward and paid $1.95/gallon for unleaded regular — or you could have patronized Shell at 6th and Harrison in San Fran and paid $2.39 — 44 cents a gallon more — for the same unleaded regular — or, you could have passed on Shell, pulled up to the pumps at Chevron at Sneath, off Highway 101, and cut your losses somewhat at $2.25/gallon — but still laid out 30 cents more than over at Valero.We’re not talking a penny or two here. We’re talking piles of pennies. Those pennies turn into dollars with amazing speed, and the next thing you know, your annual fuel bill is 25 — 30 percent higher than where it would have been with a little “selective station picking” by management.A National Overview
Chart 1 illustrates the low-to-high price-per-gallon ranges within 55 cities nationwide for a gallon of unleaded regular on March 1, 2003. Fuel price ranges at various gas stations within the noted metropolitan areas ranged from a 52-cent difference in Chicago down to a one-cent difference in Grand Forks, N.D. In 24 of the 55 cities shown (44 percent), the per-gallon difference was at least 20 cents a gallon — or more.The Top 17 Cities in Per-Gallon Variance
Chart 2 illustrates the top 17 cities in price-per-gallon variance. Chicago leads the pack with unleaded regular varying as much as 52 cents a gallon depending on where you bought it. San Francisco and Phoenix ran a close second with a half a buck a gallon separating the lowest-cost stations from the highest. Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., were close behind at 46 and 44 cents respectively.At the low end of the variance spectrum, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Anaheim, Calif., and Rochester, N.H., tied at 24 cents a gallon.A Case In Point
How does all this play out in dollars? Chart 3 illustrates a case in point with an Irvine reprographics company, their fueling habit — and cost.This particular company runs 100 vehicles — more than most of you do. Most of their fleet is made up of Toyota Tacoma, 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual transmission pick-up trucks getting about 22 miles-per-gallon in city driving, which is what they do. This company uses about 4.5 gallons daily per unit, or 450 gallons daily, 9,900 gallons monthly for the fleet.This company fuels at the station nearest their headquarters, a Mobil station half a mile away. On March 5, 2003, unleaded regular was $2.12 per gallon at Mobil, equating to a fuel bill of about $954 for this reprographic company.To the north of the company’s headquarters, 3.4 miles away on Red Hill and Mitchell, sits an ARCO station. On March 5, the ARCO station’s unleaded regular price was $2.02 per gallon, 10 cents less than at the Mobil station where the reprographics company fuels every day. Had they fueled at the ARCO station that day, they’d have saved $45 on their fuel bill.And the fact is that the ARCO station is consistently lower than the Mobil station. Over a month’s time, the company spends about $94,446 (at March 5 prices) fueling at Mobil. If they fueled at the Red Hill/ Mitchell ARCO, they would save $4,455 a month and cut their fuel bill by around $53,500 a year. Now it is a fact that the ARCO station is some three miles further north of their headquarters than the Mobil station is. However, it is also a fact that many of their customers are in the ARCO station area or further north. It would be a fairly simple logistical dispatch matter to have many of their drivers that are returning to headquarters from making deliveries in that area, drop off at the ARCO and fuel. It would require a change from the present practice of everyone fueling at the end of their shift. To achieve a lower annual fuel bill of well over $50,000, one would think it would be well worth it.How About Your Vehicle Fleet?
The foregoing was an example of the savings available in “selective gas station selection” by management on a 100-unit fleet saving 10 cents a gallon — but what about your smaller fleet? Chart 4 illustrates some of the fuel savings available within the 17 cities shown on Chart 2.Our hypothetical fleet consists of 25 vehicles in total. Making up the group are 10 Chevrolet Silverado C1500 V-8 powered pickups, five Ford V-6 E-150 cargo vans, five Dodge V-6 Caravan minivans, four Chevrolet Malibu V-6 sales cars and one Ford V-8 Expedition SUV driven by the owner. The Silverados and E-150s are running 20,000 miles a year. The Caravans and Malibus are traveling 24,000 miles annually, and the Expedition is running 15,000 miles annually.As shown on Chart 4, our 25-unit fleet operating in Chicago would save $17,000 annually fueling at the low-cost station as opposed to the high-cost station. In San Francisco and Phoenix, we’d reduce our fleet’s fuel bill by about $16,000 a year. Over in Portland, $15,000. About $14,300 in Seattle, $12,000 in Los Angeles, $11,700 in New Orleans and more than $11,000 and $10,000 respectively in San Diego and Newark.You might be thinking: “I can see that there are some substantial differences in price for the same gallon of gas at different stations — but the problem is, neither myself nor my people have the time to drive around and survey the various gas station prices in my area.” Good point. Fortunately there is an easier way to do it right from your desk without ever driving anywhere.One way is to log on to www.gaspricewatch.com and locate gas stations in your area — and their prices on unleaded regular, mid-grade, premium and diesel. It’s true — there is nothing that you or I can do about the spiraling cost of fuel. However, by some prudent management selective fuel station picking you can wind up with a significantly lower daily/monthly/ annual fuel bill than that of your competitors.