Are Hybrid cars the smartest option for fleet managers?

April 8th, 2011

With the carbon tax debate making a comeback in Parliament House,  fleet managers must look at potential strategies to minimize carbon emissions and the impacts of the tax. Not only could high emissions drain the finances in future, but also carbon dioxide has proven very harmful to the environment and the various species dependent on it.

Emissions of the gas from unnatural sources, such as cars and heavy machinery, have caused a thickening in the layer of greenhouse gases around the earth. More heat becomes trapped within the atmosphere, disrupting weather patterns and other natural cycles, which can have dire consequences for life on earth.

What is a hybrid?

While the carbon tax is a relatively new solution to the issue of climate change, hybrid cars have offered an alternative to the major source of carbon emissions for a number of years. Hybrid cars could be considered by the carbon intensive fleet vehicle industry of as a way of cutting emissions due to their capacity to run partly on an electricity powered motor.

They also cut energy consumption with an inbuilt system designed to capture breaking energy and store it in an onboard battery. Having two types of motors combines the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, rather than amplifying the weaknesses in one type of motor.

For example, cars run entirely on electricity perform poorly at higher speeds and require regular charging of the battery. However, hybrid car batteries are automatically charged by the gas motor, and can rely on the gas motor to kick in at higher speeds.

Disadvantages?

There are a few disadvantages of hybrid cars, which will need to be weighed up against the budgeting, functions and needs of your business. As with anything, the more complex the system, the higher propensity it has to breaking down, and the more difficult it is to repair.

The concept of two motor systems is relatively new to the industry, meaning there are less people qualified to repair them, and they have less experience in doing so. The hybrid cars will cost more initially, and are likely to require higher spending on maintenance. Fleet managers must consider that, in the event of carbon tax legislation being passed, the taxes avoided in running hybrid cars may offset the higher running costs.

Alternatives

Other alternatives fleet managers may consider to keep the company running efficiently, especially in times of rising fuel prices and impending taxations, is specialist fleet management services. Experts can help you manage services, maintenance, insurance costs and fuel, not to mention keeping track of the several different fleet services within the fleet.

Different management approaches are required for integral, job incentive, salary sacrifice or invisible fleet cars and outsourcing the expertise to do this may leave more time for advancing your business.

While choice of fleet car is an important decision in the management of your business, there are other approaches and alternatives, which may be explored to ensure you are working to full capacity. Regulations and laws, existent or impending, must also be considered for a legally and economically sound operation.