Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Are Companies With Large Vehicle Fleets Rejoicing Over Low Gas Prices?


You might think every company with a large vehicle fleet would be happy about the low gas prices we’re seeing right now. But when it comes to gas prices, things are never that simple.

One of the largest vehicle fleets in Austin belongs to the Austin Independent School District. AISD's Transportation Director Kris Hafezi oversees more than 1,000 vehicles. About half run on diesel, and about half run on gas. So fluctuating gas prices used to make him nervous – but not anymore. "[AISD] has a fixed fuel contract with our provider."

Now, when prices are going up, Hafezi doesn't worry. But when prices plummet like they did in 2009, and like they did recently – well, Hafezi knows he's overpaying. "I wish we'd had a crystal ball to know [prices would go down] when we signed the contract," he said.

The City of Austin didn't have a crystal ball either. But it did expect lower fuel prices this year after consulting with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Lower fuel prices, however, don't really mean a savings for the city. Right now it's spending about a million dollars less per quarter on fuel.  But it's using that savings to catch up on vehicle maintenance, thus still spending all of its projected budget. And that was part of the plan when crafting this year's budget.

One business that is rejoicing with the lower gas prices is the business of sales. Timmy Whiles, a salesman at South Point Hyundai dealership said his company fills up "every customer's car that bought a car."

Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News
Timmy Wiles has been a salesman at South Point Hyundai for the last six years. He says sales have thrived for the smaller vehicles while gas prices had been up. Still, this dealership outsold all other Hyundai dealerships in Texas last month.

This past month, Whiles and the rest of the sales team at South Point Hyundai sold close to 350 cars. They outsold every other Hyundai dealership in Texas and, along the way, saved about $10,000 on gas money.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.