Budget woes are making national headlines from Alabama to Michigan. Cities, counties, townships, special districts, and states large and small are under increasing pressure to stretch their dollars. With local programs squarely in the crosshairs for potential cuts, underutilized vehicles are a ripe target for potential savings.
Fleet managers are addressing the issue by establishing motor pools, in which a certain number of vehicles is made available for employees to reserve as needed. While car-sharing lowers inventory and related maintenance costs, employees concerned they won’t be able to get the vehicle they need when and where they need it often resist such programs.
Nine City of Loveland, Colo., departments reacted similarly last year when Fleet Manager Steve Kibler issued an outcome-based RFP asking potential partners to identify ways to cut costs with the least utilized of the city’s 650 vehicles. About 10%, used primarily by the Administration and Water & Power divisions, logged fewer than 5,000 miles per year, but couldn’t be completely eliminated because they were necessary to serve 66,000 residents.
They changed their tune, however. After working completely through each difficulty one at a time, “The attitude changed from ‘Why are we doing this?’ to ‘Why haven’t we done this before?’” Kibler says. “Now, we’re reducing greenhouse gases, saving fuel, and making people happier because they’re driving a newer car.”
Enterprise Fleet Management of St. Louis proposed automating vehicle scheduling using the online rental system of Enterprise CarShare (formerly WeCar), a program operated by Enterprise Fleet Management’s affiliated brand, Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Pairing Enterprise Fleet Management and Enterprise CarShare eliminates having to manage two contracts simultaneously: one to lease vehicles and another for car sharing technology.
Enterprise Fleet Management leases cars to medium-size fleets (at least 15 vehicles) for one- to five-year contracts based on anticipated usage. For example, high-mileage vehicles have shorter lease terms because they’ll wear faster than lower-mileage vehicles. The company works with customers to identify a contract length that best suits projected needs.
“We came to the city and said, if we can get rid of these 40 vehicles, we can get rid of all the internal costs of keeping them running,” says Enterprise Fleet Management Regional Sales Manager Dan Wegener. “We can reduce costs and inventory while keeping the delicate balance of vehicles needed to get the job done. That’s where the technology came in. The city was handling everything manually and saw the opportunity to bring in more efficiency.”
Employees can reserve a vehicle online through a unique, password-protected Enterprise CarShare portal created for Loveland up to 15 minutes before picking it up at one of four public buildings throughout the city. This lets them plan in advance but also make last-minute requests, which is key to internal customer satisfaction levels.
Because Loveland’s Fleet Management previously assigned a vehicle to a single department, the operation had no method for billing the same vehicle to multiple departments. CarShare provides that capability, allowing the city to bill use of 15 new, leased vehicles to specific departments. Enterprise charges per month; Loveland’s Fleet Management charges its customers $6 to $15/hour or $25 to $60/day.