Hybrid sales on the rise

Many fleets that rely on small and medium-sized vehicles have looked into limiting emissions and cutting fuel costs with route optimization software, but an increasing number may look to further slash expenses by using hybrid cars, rather than traditional vehicles that use a large amount of gas.

Many consider the benefits of hybrids when looking for cost savings
New data from Experian Automotive revealed fuel-friendly hybrids are gaining ground. Market share for these vehicles saw a 40.9 percent increase in the past few years, jumping from 2.2 percent in 2011 to 3.1 percent in 2012. This marks a substantial jump over the last several quarters. This study isn't the only one suggesting more companies are in the market for fuel-efficient cars. Research from Autodata Corp. revealed hybrid sales increased by 32 percent in the first two months of 2013, when compared to the same period last year.

According to Melinda Zabritski, Experian's director of automotive credit, hybrid vehicle owners see a variety of benefits from driving environmentally friendly cars.

"While they may have made the vehicle purchase due to caring for the environment, our research shows that hybrid owners are economically minded as well," she said.

While many fleets are increasing their reliance upon gas-friendly cars, the demand for such vehicles may be higher in some areas than others. Drivers in California, a state which frequently feels the impact of high gas prices and strong environmental activism, often prefer hybrids. The best selling vehicle in the state in 2012 was the Toyota Prius, a car known for its fuel efficiency. According to Experian data, this car is also popular around the country, as it accounts for 34.2 percent of the hybrid market.

With a growing number of fleets looking for greater cost efficiencies and focusing on environmentalism, hybrids may become even more common on the roads in the coming years, especially if legislation allows for tax breaks for companies that purchase these cars. However, fleets that cannot justify replacing their current vehicles just yet aren't out of luck. If they are looking to reduce the amount of fuel use and miles their employees drive, they can employ vehicle routing software to help them achieve some of the same benefits fleets made up of hybrids receive.