29% of fleet managers listed the recent increases in gas prices as their top concern in a recent survey of 105 fleet managers. That marked a 12% increase from last year, not showing the effects of average fuel prices in the U.S. rising 30.5% since last year — from $2.78 per gallon in 2010 to $3.63 in 2011 as of May 17.

Cost savings in general was no longer the No. 1 concern, chosen by only 23% of respondents after garnering 36% of the vote in 2010. However, while managers aren’t as concerned with overall cost savings as they are with rising fuel prices in particular, 64% of those surveyed believe that executive management’s main focus for fleets is cost savings, compared with 48% of respondents last year.

Escalating gas prices aren’t just causing concern among fleet managers, they’re spurring a good number of them to look into alternative energy sources — 28% of managers said they plan to add electric vehicles to their fleets within the next year. That could be another sign that due to instability in the Middle East and other factors, managers are worried gas prices won’t be dropping anytime soon, even to levels seen in 2010.

“Volatile fuel prices are an overriding concern today for corporate fleet managers, given the current environment,” said Clarence Nunn, chief executive officer of GE Capital Fleet Services. “We are seeing a corresponding increase in interest from our fleet customers for solutions in fuel, telematics, and maintenance programs that will help them combat rising fuel costs and improve operational efficiency.”

Some of those methods could include using mobile technologies such as GPS to conserve fuel, as the survey’s results showed 29% of respondents utilizing analytics to improve operational efficiency, with 27% of respondents claiming that they’d seen cost savings due to fleet analytics.

Clearly, fleet services companies are focusing on conservation and efficiency like never before. Whether it’s excess gas or time squandered, they’re looking toward new, modern technologies to reduce waste wherever possible. It looks like the days of field service techs driving gas-guzzling vans or trucks — especially along the scenic route from job to job — are coming to an end.

More about gas prices on The SmartVan