What is Biofuel?

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Introduction

According to the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) guide, renewable fuels can eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, especially within fleets that have limited low emission solutions available.

A lot of attention has been paid to vehicle electrification in order to meet the net-zero target. However, the commercial fleet industry is still faced with significant technical hurdles. That’s where biofuel comes in. 

What is Biofuel?

Biofuel is a product of natural vegetable oils and fats made through a chemical process that converts oils and fats into fatty acid methyl esters. It is a clean-burning renewable fuel intended to be blended with petroleum diesel fuel or its substitute.

Biofuel: the Ultimate Solution for Improving Fleet Sustainability Credentials

With fleet companies preferring to use biofuel blends in diesel trucks and equipment, diesel powertrains will remain popular.

Top Benefits and Considerations of Biofuel

Biofuels are clean-burning and renewable alternatives for petroleum diesel produced domestically. The use of biodiesel as a fuel for your fleet comes with numerous advantages, including improved air quality and energy safety.

Improved Air Quality

Biofuel use became mandatory for vehicles manufactured after 2009 to ensure that they met specific emission standards, regardless of whether they run on diesel, biodiesel, or alternative fuel. By using Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), a superior technology which minimizes the emission of nitrogen oxide to almost zero in diesel vehicles, improving air quality is achievable.

Biofuel provides reduced carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and sulfate emissions when compared to petroleum diesel. Also, compared to traditional petroleum fuel, biofuel reduces carcinogenic compounds emissions by 85 percent. These emission reductions are directly proportional to biodiesel amounts when blended with petroleum diesel.

Energy Security

In 2019, the United States had to import 3 percent of its petroleum. Approximately 30 percent of U.S. total energy needs go to the transportation sector, and that amounts to an estimated 70 percent of petroleum consumption in the U.S.

The use of biofuel and alternative fuels, along with advanced technologies for reducing fuel consumption, play a major role in strengthening national security and minimizing transportation energy costs for consumers, specifically businesses.

The United States produces biodiesel, which directly substitutes or extends supplies of traditional petroleum diesel. For example, soybean biodiesel provides a positive energy balance as it makes 4.56 energy units per single unit of fossil energy used over its life cycle.

Improved Engine Operations

Biofuel improves lubricity and increases the amount of cetane in fuel. To prevent moving parts from wearing out easily, diesel engines rely on the fuel lubricity. There is, however, allowable fuel sulfur of 15 ppm.

It is advisable to check the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommendations of your engine before using biofuel. It allows you to determine the perfect blend for your vehicle. To find manufacturers who support biodiesel blends use, check here.

Safety

Biofuel is not as harmful as petroleum diesel when released into the environment. In its purest, unblended form, it is far safer than petroleum diesel, as it is less combustible. Petroleum’s flashpoint is about 52 degrees celsius, compared to biofuel’s 130 degrees celsius. 

It is also safer to store, handle, and transport biodiesel, but you’ll need a biodiesel handling guide for all the necessary handling information.

Opportunity for Decarbonization of Fleets

Heavy commercial vehicles produce an estimated 15 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), with light-duty vans accounting for a similar contribution. It is the long-haul duty vehicles that contribute the largest share of GHG emissions.

The LowCVP Renewable Fuels Guide shows how adopting renewable fuels offers the fastest, most economically viable pathways towards reducing emissions for new and used vehicles.

The guide provides fleet managers with a myriad of low carbon fuels available for their fleets, focusing mainly on high-blend biofuels that can be used in commercial vehicles.

In the UK, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation Order (RTFO) mandated UK fuel retailers to ensure that at least 9.75 percent of all their fuel supplies are obtained from renewable sources by the start of 2020. So far, 5 percent of all road transport fuel in the UK is gotten from renewable sources, and the order requires suppliers to ensure 12.4 percent of similar supplies by 2032.

Under this scheme, the RTFO has set standards for biofuels to meet specific greenhouse gas emissions.

Biofuel and the Future

Around 40 billion gallons of petroleum diesel is consumed annually across the United States, but a complete shift to biofuel would create crazy demands for the available agricultural land. There are growing controversies over the future of biofuel, as a significant number of stakeholders argue that limited agricultural land would bring about other dire consequences. Shifting agrarian land for fuel purposes would impact food prices.

In Europe, increasing demand for biodiesel has resulted in high Indonesian oil imports. Consequently, Indonesia is facing massive deforestation as farmers continue to cut down palm plantations.

Biofuel remains the most viable option for now as it offers a far more environmentally-friendly option than ethanol, gasoline, or conventional diesel. As more research is being carried out on other possible options, or in the few cases where biofuel is not feasible, then the best way towards attaining a healthy planet is cutting down on fuel consumption.

Manage your Fleet Fuel Consumption with Azuga

Fuel costs account for significant percentages in fleet businesses, and finding the right balance to minimize fuel consumption is one way to go. Fleet operators can take a number of actions to minimize fuel consumption, even as the world agitates towards biofuel and electric cars. Investing in fuel cards is a proven way to achieve this goal. 
With so many fuel card providers, do your research to get the one that fits your business. Once you have it in place, integrate it with the in-house telematics system from Azuga. In so doing, you achieve more as a business, beyond just fuel savings and fleet tracking.

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What is an Enterprise Fleet?

If you utilize company vehicles during the course of business, you might want to familiarize yourself with enterprise fleet management and maintenance. Operating a fleet can be a challenge. Luckily there are things that you can do to make your life a lot easier. In this article, we will answer what is an enterprise fleet? Plus, we’ll outline four key tips you should know about enterprise fleet management and an additional three tips about enterprise fleet maintenance.

What is an Enterprise Fleet?

An enterprise fleet, simply put, is a fleet of vehicles leased or owned by a business. Automotive Fleet Magazine defines enterprise fleets as commercial entities with 15 or greater vehicles. A wide range of businesses operate enterprise fleets. For example, delivery businesses and many businesses who do on-site service calls or have representatives travel to meet with clients have enterprise fleets.

The enterprise fleet industry is huge in the United States. Automotive Magazine recently released a report that outlines the number of cars and trucks that are leased or owned by enterprise fleets in the United States. Fleets in the U.S. leased 431,000 vehicles last year and owned 204,000 vehicles. There are a total of 727,000 trucks being leased by enterprise fleets and 1,860,000 trucks are owned by them.

In some areas, enterprise fleets are also made up of vehicles that are privately owned (or leased) by employees but used for business purposes. These are known as “grey fleet” vehicles. 

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Management

Enterprise fleet management can be a challenge. It’s a fast-paced job that requires you to stay on your toes. Fleet managers are often responsible for drivers and accountable to management. Below are four tips on how to excel in enterprise fleet management:

1. Create Instructions for Enterprise Fleet Vehicle Acquisition and Disposal

When a business lacks purchasing and disposal guidelines for fleet vehicles they may be giving up thousands of dollars through inefficiencies. Consistency is very important in enterprise fleet management.

Your company should look into bulk purchasing and understand the right time or number of miles at which to best sell a vehicle. Enterprise fleet managers should spec out options for fleet vehicles and assemble a purchasing plan. In addition, they should gain insight into the optimal time to dispose of fleet vehicles.

2. Be Proactive When it Comes to Safety

Fleet drivers face a whole host of distractions and safety hazards on the job. Great fleet managers know how to get ahead of things that might become problems. Invest in safety before accidents happen.

Investing in safety may look like hands-free devices for your drivers, installing an app that monitors driver behavior on their phones, or an in-cab camera that oversees drivers while they’re on the road. Ultimately, being proactive about safety will save your company money in the long run.

3. Set Performance Goals for Drivers

Many fleet managers find it useful to incentivize drivers to perform well. Drivers may be encouraged to achieve higher fuel efficiency or perform vehicle inspections regularly. No matter what goal you set, you should hold your drivers to a high-performance standard.

Driver behavior monitoring makes it simple to set goals and encourage safe driving habits. Actionable goals help managers encourage drivers to improve their driving habits. 

4. Continually Educate Yourself on the Enterprise Fleet Industry 

The best fleet managers know that the fleet industry is constantly changing and it's vital that managers keep up. Top fleet managers join industry associations, read trade publications and blogs, and overall keep up with what is happening in the industry.

Often fleet managers will discover new technologies to adopt when reading up on the fleet industry. This helps them keep ahead of the competition. With so much information readily available online, it’s never been easier for fleet managers to keep up-to-date and ahead of the curve.

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Maintenance

Fleet maintenance is integral to running a top-performing enterprise fleet. Here are three tips on how to excel at enterprise fleet maintenance:

1. Know Your Total Cost of Ownership

Pay attention to your maintenance costs and make note when they start to rise because of a vehicle’s age. Make sure you comprehend the warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer and the way it impacts the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. Those who excel at enterprise fleet management understand trends in the used vehicle market, the residual value of fleet vehicles, and the best time to sell fleet vehicles to obtain a cost-effective enterprise fleet.

2. Properly Spec Fleet Vehicles

A vital part of fleet maintenance is performing specs on vehicles. It’s important that this job is performed well. You should be aware of the demands your fleet vehicles will face. Make sure to outline vehicle usage.

The danger is that under-specing a fleet vehicle can lead to maintenance issues down the line that could put a dent in your budget. On the other hand, an over-spec’d fleet vehicle can also increase costs. Great fleet managers know the criteria involved with specing (operating conditions, what’s being carried, usage, etc.) and try to make theirs as accurate as possible.

3. Perform Preventative Maintenance

One of the most important things to understand about enterprise fleet maintenance is the cost savings involved in preventative maintenance. Well-maintained fleet vehicles are less likely to require unscheduled downtime or repairs. Some examples of preventative maintenance are general vehicle safety checks, oil changes, and tire rotation, and inspection. Make sure to perform these activities on a regular schedule.


Good enterprise fleet management practices help leaders in the fleet management industry achieve more. Take your fleet to the next level when you implement smart technology like Azuga Fleet™. The Azuga team is here to help boost your fleet’s productivity, improve safety, and save you hundreds each year. 

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OBD-II Port

If you’re a fleet owner, fleet manager, or even fleet driver, you should know about the OBD-II port. It’s a standardized diagnostic port that allows you to access data from the computer in a vehicle’s engine. GPS trackers can be installed in a vehicle’s OBD-II port to provide live engine and trip data to a central hub or the driver.

In this article we will outline the basics of OBD-II ports, the history of the OBD-II port, and detailed specs on the OBD-II port pinout. Vehicles are integral to fleets and understanding the OBD-II port is essential to getting the most out of yours.

What is OBD-II Port?

So what exactly is the OBD-II port? To start out let’s break down the abbreviation. “OBD” stands for “on-board diagnostics.” It refers to the vehicle’s electronic system that provides self-diagnostics and reporting features. This system is used by repair technicians to gain access to subsystem information in order to monitor the vehicle’s performance and properly repair it.

On-board diagnostics (OBD) is the uniform protocol that is used in most light-duty vehicles in order to access the vehicle’s diagnostic information. This information is produced by the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU, also known as the engine control module). The engine control unit acts as the “brain” of the vehicle.

A vehicle’s OBD-II is a computer that monitors mileage, emissions, speed, and additional data about the vehicle. It’s connected to the vehicle’s dashboard and will alert the driver if any issues are detected (by turning on the check engine light for example).

The OBD-II port is accessible from inside the vehicle. It will generally be located under the dash on the driver’s side. It enables a mechanic (or anyone else with a specialized tool) to read the error code generated by the engine. Looking to install GPS trackers in your fleet vehicles? Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about where these devices are installed.

History Behind the OBD-II Diagnostic Port

Early Years of On-Board Diagnostics

The origins of the OBD-II port began in the 1960s. Some of the organizations involved in the preliminary framework for the standard were the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Organization for Standardization.

The first on-board diagnostics system that had the capacity to be scanned to check for issues with the vehicle’s engine was introduced by Volkswagen in 1968. Over ten years later, Datsun released a very basic on-board diagnostics system. Jump forward to 1980, when General Motors revealed a proprietary system including interface and protocol that was able to generate engine diagnostics and alert the driver via a check engine light. At the same time, other car manufacturers were introducing their own versions of on-board diagnostics.

Up until this time, before standardization hit the industry, manufacturers created their own proprietary systems. This meant the tools required to diagnose different vehicle’s engines were all different. They had their own connector type, requirements for electronic interface, and each used custom codes for reporting problems.

OBD-II Diagnostic Port Standardization 

Standardization finally came to on-board diagnostics in the late 1980s. In 1988 the Society of Automotive Engineers released a recommendation that called for a standard connector pin and set of diagnostics across the industry.

In 1991 the state of California mandated that all vehicles have some form of basic on-board diagnostics. This is known as OBD-I, a precursor to the OBD-II port.

OBD-II was created three years later, in 1994. In that year California required all vehicles sold (starting in 1996) to have on-board diagnostics as recommended by SAE. This is known as OBD-II. California introduced the legislation primarily in order to perform across-the-board emissions testing on vehicles. Due to California’s legislation, in 1996 car manufacturers started to install OBD-II ports in all cars and trucks across the country.

OBD-II introduced standardized diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). There is a slight variation among OBD-II systems. These variations are known as protocols. They are specific to vehicle manufacturers and there are five basic signal protocols:

  • ISO14230-4 (KWP2000): Keyword Protocol
  • ISO9141-2: Used in all Chrysler vehicles
  • SAE J1850 VPW: Variable Pulse Width
  • SAE J1850 PWM: Pulse Width Modulation
  • ISO 15765 CAN: Controller Area Network (used in all vehicles made after 2008)

In-Depth: OBD-II Diagnostic Port

The OBD-II port pinout gives access to the engine’s status information and Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The DTCs cover a number of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (engine and transmission) and emission control systems. The OBD-II pinout also provides further information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), Calibration Identification Number, ignition counter, and emissions control system counters.

These DTCs are stored in a computer system. It’s important to note that these codes vary between manufacturers. There are trouble codes for a wide range of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (including engine, transmission, emissions), chassis, body, and network. The list of standard diagnostic trouble codes is extensive.

If a fleet vehicle is brought to a shop to be serviced, the mechanic can connect to the vehicle’s OBD-II port pinout with a standardized scanning tool to read the error codes and identify the issue. The OBD-II port lets mechanics accurately diagnose issues with your fleet’s vehicles, inspect them promptly, and fix any issues before they become major problems. Ultimately the OBD-II port helps get your fleet vehicles back on the road faster and stay there longer.

Detailed Look: OBD-II Port Pinout

Any OBD-II scan tool can read DTCs due to the standardized pinout. Scanning tools have the capacity to read from any of the 5 protocols. The standardized OBD-II port pinout is as follows:

Pin 1: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 2: Utilized by SAE J1850 PWM and VPW

Pin 3: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 4: Ground

Pin 5: Ground

Pin 6: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 7: ISO 14230-4 and The K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 10: Utilized solely by SAE J1850 PWM

Pin 14: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 15: ISO 14230-4 and the K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 16: Power from the vehicle’s battery


Your fleet vehicle's OBD-II ports may be small but they can play a big role in helping your fleet succeed. To learn about what OBD-II ports can be used to help your fleet succeed check out Azuga Fleet. This smart fleet tracking software will allow you to take your company to the next level without the growing pains.

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What is the ELD Mandate?

Fleet managers should be well aware of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Non-compliance with ELD rules can cost your organization thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Fleets that are still operating with automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) need to be aware that their technology is outdated and should be upgraded to ELDs immediately to avoid penalties.

The use of ELDs is already widespread. According to a study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a consulting and market research firm, 3 million ELDs and ABORDs are currently being used by fleets in the United States.

In this article we will outline what an ELD is, explain the ELD mandate, and provide a timeline of ELD rule history. In addition, we will explain the hard deadlines for ELD compliance, highlight some of the latest news about the ELD mandate, and explain what fleet managers should know.

What is an ELD?

Electronic logging devices, also known by their acronym ELD, provide an accurate, streamlined method of recordkeeping for drivers and fleet operators. These records are often mandated by law. ELDs make the mandatory task of recording a daily logbook easier.

ELDs are connected directly to the vehicle’s engine. They provide stellar data for fleet managers to utilize. Data from ELDs is sent to a telematics system. Managers and office personnel can use this system to review hours of service (HOS) statuses, generate reports, and come up with optimized routes for drivers.

Electronic logging devices capture a wide range of information from the vehicle including date, time, vehicle identification, motor carrier identification, geographic location, miles traveled, engine power up and shutdown, yard moves, and engine diagnostics and malfunction data. ELDs also log information on the vehicle’s driver such as their logon/logoff, HOS, driver or authorized user identification, duty status changes, personal use, and certification of driver’s daily record.

ELDs record all of this data automatically. However, if there is an issue or omission, some entries can be manually edited by the driver or support staff. These edits are tracked and must be approved by the driver.

Organizations can utilize the data from ELDs to better understand which drivers need coaching, which routes are the most profitable, and which routes are the most expensive in terms of fuel consumption and time. HOS information, recorded by ELDs, can even be displayed in the cab. This allows the driver to monitor how many hours they have left and display the information easily to a roadside inspection.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate was created in 2012 when the United States Congress enacted the bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (commonly known as MAP-21). This bill outlined criteria for highway funding but also contained a provision that mandated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a rule requiring the adoption and use of ELDs.

So why did the FMCSA implement the ELD mandate? According to the FMCSA “the rule is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share RODS [Record of Duty Status] data.”

Timeline of the ELD Mandate

After being required by congress in the 2012 bill MAP-21, the FMCSA released a notice in March of 2014 that proposed creating amendments to its safety regulations to enact the ELD mandate. Comments for the proposed mandate were due by May of 2014.

The FMCSA finally published the ELD mandate in December of 2015. The mandate requires the use of ELDs for vehicles in the commercial bus and truck industries.

The first deadline laid out in the FMCSA’s ELD mandate was December 18, 2017. By this date, all drivers and carriers subject to the ELD mandate had to have either an ELD or an AOBRD installed in their vehicle.

ELD Mandate 2019: Deadline

According to the ELD mandate, AOBRDs could be used up until December 16, 2019 (as long as the device was installed before December 18, 2017). After this date, all drivers and carriers were required to use electronic logging devices.

2019 was the last year that drivers could use AOBRDs. If your fleet is still using them, it’s time to upgrade as soon as possible. The ELD mandates 2019 as the final deadline to switch.

ELD Mandate - Latest News

Much of the latest news about the ELD mandate has revolved around the December 2019 deadline to switch over from AOBRDs. Recently, Transport Topic noted that “motor carriers should not underestimate the amount of planning and training needed to ensure a smooth rollout [of ELD devices]”. This is according to a panel at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in 2019.

FreightWaves reported that right up to the ELD Mandate 2019 deadline, adoption rates of ELD devices remained low. Many businesses were waiting until the last possible moment to switch over.

One of the most pertinent pieces of recent news comes again from Transport Topic, who reported that commercial vehicle inspectors are not offering a grace period of “soft enforcement” for truckers who have not switched to ELDs. At this point in time, if your fleet is operating without ELDs, you may face an out-of-service violation.

What Fleet Managers Should Know

The deadline to equip fleet vehicles with ELDs has long passed. If fleet managers want to avoid potential penalties or fines they should make sure their vehicles are all equipped with the necessary items. This includes a certified, registered, regulation-compliant ELD, an ELD user manual, an instruction sheet for reporting ELD malfunctions, and instructions for the data transfer mechanisms your ELD is capable of. Fines for non-compliance can be costly and total thousands of dollars.

Fleet managers should also be aware that ELDs are not allowed everywhere. There are certain areas that prohibit commercial vehicles from operating with an ELD including any U.S. government or government contractor facilities.


The ELD mandate is especially important for fleet managers to know and understand. The deadline to comply has long passed and fleet vehicles now must be equipped with ELDs. To learn more about this important mandate and optimizing your fleet, head to Azuga. The Azuga team is here to help boost productivity, optimize route planning, and so much more.

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