Tackling the big sustainability challenges when using vehicles in your business

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

Many businesses benefit from using company vehicles. In some cases, the entire business is built around driving, like a courier company, for example. However, even companies that do not offer driving as a service still benefit from delivery vehicles or company cars.

But if you are investing in vehicles for your business, it’s vital that you tackle the sustainability issue. The purchase, use, and disposal of vehicles all have an impact on the environment. As a business owner, it’s down to you to manage that impact.

Environmental responsibility is a priority for consumers and companies that don’t manage their vehicles in the right way could suffer. If your business uses vehicles for any reason, these are the best ways to manage the sustainability issue.

Consider buying second-hand

If you need a company vehicle for any reason, don’t automatically jump to buying a new one. There is a prevalent culture of throwing away and replacing items as soon as they go out of fashion or fail to meet expectations. You can avoid this cycle and cut down on waste by purchasing second-hand and reusing products where possible.

This may mean that it takes a little longer to buy a new car for your business, but the environmental impact will be minimized. It could also save you money if you do some thorough shopping around. And as cars are such big investments, saving cash could be very useful indeed.

People are often concerned about maintenance and reliability issues with second-hand cars. However, if you go with a reputable dealer and purchase a car that is still relatively new, you should be fine. Buying a car that is a few years old will be much cheaper and more eco-friendly, but it will still run perfectly fine.

Look into electric options

Electric and hybrid cars are becoming more commonplace as the technology advances and becomes better value for money. If you want to do your bit for the environment but still need a company car, then using an electric or hybrid vehicle is definitely the best option.

There are even some tax incentives that could work in your favor if you choose to go down this route. Electric vehicles aren’t as powerful as conventional petrol/gasoline ones, so they’re not suitable for all businesses – delivery companies will probably want to stick with regular cars – but many other companies can benefit from eco-friendly options like these.

However, when purchasing an electric vehicle, consider how sustainable it is in terms of repairs and maintenance. Some brands are very difficult to repair and parts will simply be thrown out and replaced every time. There is a big problem with disposing of old batteries too. This contributes to waste in a big way and counteracts much of the positive change that you are making by not using petrol or diesel.

You also need to think about where your electricity is coming from. If you charge electric vehicles with power generated by fossil fuels, you are not really reducing your impact on the planet, you are just shifting the source of the pollution. So, if you are planning to use electric cars, you also need to ensure that your energy tariff uses renewables.

Keep up with maintenance and service

A company car is a big investment and if you want to make it last, you’ll need to keep up with maintenance. Whether it’s a gas/electric hybrid or a regular old traditional vehicle, the same rules apply. You must service your car regularly if you want it to be efficient.

A car that is well maintained by a professional mechanic will run far more efficiently. This means that you’ll use less fuel, spend less on major repairs, and keep the vehicle on the road for longer (learn more about how maintenance services can help). By keeping your vehicles in good condition, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact while also saving money at the same time.

Drive efficient routes

You may not think that the path you take to work every day has an impact on the environment, but it does. If you are driving in inefficient routes for any reason, then your fuel usage will be higher and you’ll contribute more to carbon emissions.

Instead of using the most obvious options, plan out a route that is more eco-friendly and less wasteful of gas/electricity. Often, doing something like avoiding expressways and sticking to back roads could make a big difference. You should also consider traffic; if there’s a lot of congestion or tailbacks then this is wasting time (and therefore money) while also polluting.

This is especially important if you are running a large fleet of vehicles because those small increases in emissions soon add up. However, you can manage this problem by rethinking your routes. Route planning software can help you find the most efficient route, so you can reduce your fuel use as much as possible.

Don’t buy more vehicles than you need

When your business grows, you may want to add a few more vehicles to the fleet. This is great for a range of reasons, but it’s important to consider the environmental implications too. If you buy another vehicle when you don’t actually need it, then this will have a negative impact on the environment and reduce your company’s green credentials.

In some cases, employees can share vehicles if they only need to use them for the occasional sales call. Not every employee needs a company car either. So, think carefully about what you actually need before buying any new vehicles.

Recycle old vehicles

When your company vehicles are no longer fit for purpose, you need to think about how you get rid of them. Before you do anything else, see if you can sell the vehicle so it continues to be used. If that is not an option, you need to find a scrapyard that will recycle as many parts as possible instead of getting rid of the entire car straight away. Most of the parts in a car can be repurposed or recycled, so as long as you find a reputable company, you should be able to dispose of it in a sustainable way.

Any business that uses cars must think carefully about sustainability and take these steps to reduce their impact on the environment.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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