Fuel Management

Minn. County Increases Fuel Economy With Vehicle Software

December 01, 2017

Pictured: One of the sheriff's office vehicles equipped with Derive Efficiency. Photo courtesy of Dakota County
Pictured: One of the sheriff's office vehicles equipped with Derive Efficiency. Photo courtesy of Dakota County

Dakota County, Minn., fleet vehicles saw an 8% average drop in fuel consumption in its fleet vehicles that were installed with Derive Efficiency's vehicle calibration system.

Fleet Manager Kevin Schlangen, CPFP, CAFM, CEM, said 11 vehicles out of Dakota County's 380-vehicle fleet had the Derive Efficiency calibration software installed in April 2017. The pilot program tested GMC pickup trucks, Chevrolet pickup trucks and full-sized vans, and Ford pickup trucks and Ford Police Interceptor sedans and utility vehicles. All of the vehicles in the pilot program were in service for more than 12 months; telematics systems had captured vehicle data before the pilot for comparison purposes.

The county's largest concern was fuel economy.

"Anything that we can do that takes the amount of fuel that you burn at idle out of the control of the person behind the wheel is what we're looking for," Schlangen said. "If we can have it just be automated, something we can just program in and wouldn't have ongoing maintenance costs, that's what attracted us to a product like this."

Schlangen also said that the county hoped to improve driver performance, especially in its law enforcement fleet. Seven out of the 11 calibrated vehicles are assigned  to the sheriff's office.

On average, Dakota County's vehicles met Derive Efficiency's 6% fuel economy guarantee, but individual results varied. Some vehicles, including one Ford Police Interceptor sedan and one GMC truck, saw up to 16% more efficient fuel usage, but others fell below the 6% guarantee.

"Some of them were a little bit below that 6%, but on some of them that were below it, we can go back and see that it had to do with driver behavior and the projects those units were on," Schlangen said. "With telematics systems installed we were able to very distinctly determine how much more idle time there was just because of how they had to use each vehicle."

Photo courtesy of Dakota County
Photo courtesy of Dakota County

Schlangen said vehicles that fell below the fuel economy guarantee would have lost even more fuel without Derive Efficiency's reprogramming. He estimates that, depending on fuel prices, Dakota County's fleet can save anywhere between $25 to $70 per vehicle, per month.

Schlangen predicts that Dakota County will see a return on its original investment of six to 18 months, depending on the utilization and project assignment of each vehicle.

The fleet drivers testing Derive Efficiency were not informed that their vehicles were being reprogrammed in order to track changes in performance and feel of driving. The changes were subtle, Schlangen said. Some drivers noticed slightly smoother performance.

Dakota County has made plans to outfit an additional 72 vehicles with Derive Efficiency by the end of the year.

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