Efforts to minimize tailpipe pollution and reduce oil consumption target fleets because they represent a concentration and level of planning that are missing for personal vehicles. Fleets are often centrally purchased, fueled, maintained, and managed, and they may have fixed or predictable routes; and they have business reasons for making transportation choices that the public may not yet regard as in its interest. Fleets also represent coordinated buying power, either individually, in the case of large fleets, or in associations.
Fleets are potentially significant in such efforts due to the sheer number of vehicles belonging to them and to their role as a laboratory and showcase for new approaches to the selection and use of automobiles. The value of fleet-oriented strategies depends both on the fraction of fleet vehicles they affect and their transferability to non-fleet vehicles.
Given the necessity of coming to grips with U.S.reliance on oil and production of greenhouse gases, it is important to understand how fleets could further advance the goal of reducing passenger vehicles’ energy use. Energy efficiency strategies include reducing fleet size, training drivers to drive more efficiently, improving tire or lubricant quality, and reducing miles traveled by the fleet. All of these can be important elements of making fleets greener. Perhaps the most important influence that fleets can exert on the energy efficiency of the U.S.vehicle stock as a whole, though, is through strengthening the market for high fuel economy vehicles.