ARI’s Romy Bria Discusses 2016 Operating Costs & Trends for 2017 with Automotive Fleet

Each year, Automotive Fleet surveys several of the leading fleet management companies to provide readers an in-depth look at the latest operating cost facts and trends. This year, for the survey’s 25th anniversary, ARI’s Director of Fleet Management Romy Bria joined the discussion, offering his perspective on fleet maintenance costs, tire prices, preventative maintenance costs and fuel spend.

Overall, 2016 was the fourth consecutive year that fleet operating costs remained relatively stable, due in large part to lower fuel prices which typically accounts for approximately 60 percent of a fleet’s total operating expenses.

Of note, Bria points to fleet downsizing as one of the factors helping to driver overall fleet maintenance costs lower. “Many fleets have transitioned to smaller, more fuel-efficient units and have enjoyed reduced costs on standard components such as tires and brakes,” said Bria.

While many operating cost segments remained stable or trended lower in 2016, tire expenses increased significantly for many fleets.

“Increased use of larger-sized wheels and tires has driven up the cost of fleet replacement tires and has, in some instances, created limited availability in parts of the county,” said Bria. “Additionally, the influx of new vehicle models — such as European-style vans — has increased prices on new tire models due to reduced competitive options for specific tread patterns and sizes. Prices for identical size and models, however, have not increased significantly this year.”

In terms of what to expect as we head in to 2017, Bria believes stable oil costs will positively impact preventative maintenance costs as well as the typical fleet’s fuel spend.

“We (ARI) expect preventive maintenance (PM) pricing to remain flat heading into 2017. Stability related to the cost of oil, along with increasing drain intervals and the continued acceptance of synthetics should have a favorable impact on PM costs,” said Bria.

Bria also cautions that fleets should remain committed to basic fuel cost management principles in 2017 and beyond regardless of the prices at the pump. “Flat fuel prices have shifted some fleet’s focus away from cost-reduction strategies,” said Bria.

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