Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

Fuel Cost and Reader Input

May 2003, by Terry Flesia, Features Editor

A couple of items have developed since my last column that are worthy of bringing to your attention.The Cost of Fuel
In my March/April column I included a fuel cost per gallon survey of 22 major cities coast to coast. As of mid-February the overall average unleaded regular cost per gallon was $1.63. Then I was greeted with a March 27 Wall Street Journal column by David Wessel a couple of days before writing this column, which said in part: “Oil prices haven’t risen. They have fallen. The benchmark price of crude oil on futures exchanges were trading yesterday at $28.63 a barrel, well below last month’s peak of $39.99.”I thought: “That’s a 28 percent drop! Relief at the pumps at last!” Then I recalled that unleaded regular was still running around $2.25 here in Los Angeles. Well, everyone knows that Californians are the last to get the word. But, in curiosity, I re-did the same 22-city survey — only now for the March 24-29 period.Either has got an entire staff of bad keypunchers, or thousands of gas station operators are gougers, or the oil companies didn’t notice their 28 percent drop in crude — or someone is making a pile of cash.My March 24-29 survey produced an average of $1.68/gallon for unleaded regular — up three percent from the February survey. Funny how that system works. Crude prices go up and pump prices immediately rise. Crude prices go down and pump prices go up.Business Fleet Reader Input
I took a small “pilot group” reader subject interest level survey over the past month. Average fleet size of the respondents was 25.8 vehicles, close to the 24.7 average of all BF readers. Of the pilot group, 40 percent owned their vehicles and 60 percent leased, with 40 percent both owning and leasing. Of the leased group, only 20 percent engaged in open-end leasing.Concerning future BF features, whether to run vehicles to shorter mileage or extend the life to higher mileage and effective methods of vehicle budgeting ranked high with an average of a 92 percent interest level indicated. Local dealer versus out-of-state, factory-ordering and drop-ship systems and fleet leasing for small fleets fell in the 82-86 percent range.Future features on diesels, tax breaks by vehicle weight, and fleet vehicle pricing all ranked up in the 70-76 percent interest level range. Interest levels of 60-68 percent were indicated for more information on driver reimbursement, fuel station per-gallon pricing, fuel price volatility, small fleet management solutions, and fleet dealers.We will address all of the above issues and more in the months to come. Meanwhile, look for factory ordering versus off-the-lot buying, and a related feature showing you a method to easily facilitate a factory ordering system in this issue of Business Fleet. Also in this issue are two articles concerning fuel: one showing the cost differences in high/low price-per-gallon in cities nationwide and how you can save some dollars through prudent fuel buying. A second feature addresses fuel surcharges to your customers. Business Fleet exists to serve the interests of our readers. Let me know what you think.
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