Product test: Fuel use apps

Keeping a handle on running costs requires co-operation between fleet manager and driver. Rather than relying on a piece of paper and a pen, these apps will help make sure that every fill-up is recorded correctly. James Scoltock tests three leading free contenders

 

Drivvo (FREE – iTunes/Google Play)

The aim of the Drivvo app is to help users manage the cost of running their vehicle, most importantly how much fuel you’re using to travel for business. The calculator helps you track the average fuel economy of your vehicle, monthly expenses, and a fair amount more.

Drive screen shotThe app is simple to set up once downloaded and allows you to put in your vehicle details along with any others you may use, so you can track more than just your work van if you want to.

As with most apps of this nature it’s reliant on you inputting the correct data, so the odometer reading, cost of the fuel and the total cost of each fill up, but it does at least work out the total number of litres you put in the tank from those figures.

Hopefully, once you’ve started it will become second nature and will open up the data that you want to see: the price per mile, the fuel economy average and total expenditure.

Drivvo isn’t limited to only fuel costs though; you can also include servicing charges and expenses, whether it’s paying for parking or even a fine. All of such motoring expenses can be quickly tapped into the app and it’ll give you a running total of how much you’re spending on the vehicle.

It offers a lot for a free app, but should you want to do a little extra there is also a Pro version that requires a subscription, (paid either annually, quarterly or monthly at £5.99, £2.49 or £0.99 respectively). This enhanced version offers 24-hour technical support, the ability to export data for use in a spreadsheet and removes all the advertising.

 

Gas Tracker+ (FREE – iTunes/Google Play)

Gas Tracker+ is an extremely simple app that allows you to input the cost of each fill up, the price of the fuel and how far you’ve driven to give you an average fuel economy number and how much your motoring is costing you. 

Fuel Buddy screen shotYou can add in servicing costs, too, if you want a slightly more comprehensive picture of how much your vehicle is costing you, but Gas Tracker+ doesn’t overcomplicate things.

What the app lacks in day-to-day functionality is partially made up by its link to the Fuelly.com website. Once you’re sitting in front of a computer instead of a steering wheel you can follow the vehicles in your fleet and export any data that you think is important.

However, perhaps the best feature of Gas Tracker+ is the simplicity of the user interface, because there’s absolutely no on-screen clutter, information is given in a clear manner and there are only three buttons at the bottom of the screen, which makes life easier.

Even when you are manually inputting fuel data things are kept simple, as you work your way down a short list that includes the odometer figure, cost per litre, how many litres you filled up with and the total cost.

There are also extra bits of information you can chose to add, such as location, payment method, fuel brand and even tyre pressures. On top of all that, there’s even an option to let the app know roughly how much of your journey was city driving or completed on faster roads such as motorways, but if you don’t use it, it won’t hinder the usefulness of the app.

 

Fuel Buddy (FREE – iTunes/Google Play)

Fuel Buddy is marketed as a complete maintenance tool, serving as a mileage tracker as well as a maintenance, service, repair and expense log.

Fully screen shotIt keeps track of your mileage, fuel economy, service costs, service reminders, vehicle expenses and business trips. One advantage it has is that it’s integrated with Google Drive so that you can save all your data in the cloud.

The app records details of your trips, services and expenses and calculates statistics such as distance travelled between fill ups, average fuel economy to date, average price and quantity, fuel economy by octane, fuel efficiency by fuel brand, consumption by mile, as well as servicing costs.

When you’re inputting the base data for the app to calculate all of the above there’s also the option to attach a copy of the receipt, which could prove useful for some users.

One bugbear is that when you are inputting data the keys on the phone can obscure some of the boxes, which is a nuisance because it means making a mistake is a little more likely.

Although all the statistics can be viewed as graphs, the app’s overall appearance isn’t as appealing as others, and isn’t as easily digestible because of it.

Because Fuel Buddy lets you back-up and restore all data and receipts to your Google Drive account, it does offer greater security. This data can then be downloaded into Fuel Buddy on another device – useful when you may have multiple phones or mobile devices but still want to access the app.

There is also an ad-free Pro version of the app for £3.99 and allows you to track trips using GPS, email receipts and logs directly from the app and gives free technical support. Perhaps something to consider if you’re running a larger fleet.

 

Verdictand the winner is…

For ease of use, breadth and quality of information, it’s difficult to look past the Drivvo app. For something that is free to download it offers so much both to the individual user and for someone running a fleet of vehicles.

Scrolling through the running history of your vehicle is very easy indeed, and the multiple reports that you can look at, whether for monthly motoring expenses, fuel efficiency or fuel prices, make it easier to pinpoint the exact information you need.

It’s likely that most fleets will need the ability to export data from the app so that it can be used throughout the business, and while other apps do give this function without requiring a subscription, the cost for the Pro version of Drivvo is relatively low.

Perhaps the one area that Drivvo could learn from is the at-a-glance nature of Gas Tracker+. In that app it’s very easy to see your average fuel economy and total running costs without having to dive too far into the software.

If the Drivvo developers could add a function to include receipts too, as with the Fuel Buddy app, then it would almost be the perfect option.

As it is though, it isn’t far off, and given the need for fleets to be aware of running costs, Drivvo offers enough functionality, data and peace of mind to help firms maximise vehicle usage while keeping an accurate track of how much is being spent.