It’s well known that carrying unnecessary weight in a vehicle increases its fuel consumption, but by how much has been debated for some time.
At Cenex, and in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, we did some research comparing vehicles empty and fully loaded on typical urban and rural driving routes (using the Artemis Urban and Artemis Road drive cycles respectively), which more accurately represent realistic driving conditions.
Under urban driving conditions, our analysis found that a typical car-derived van, such as a Volkswagen Caddy, would use around 26% less fuel when empty compared to when fully loaded. A fuel saving of around 5% was achievable with a weight reduction of 150kg.
As for larger panel vans such as the Peugeot Boxer, the difference in fuel consumption was up to 33%, with 3% fuel savings achievable with a weight reduction of 150kg.
It is accepted that not every driver can reduce their vehicle weight by 150kg; however the EST has estimated that if half the van drivers in the UK lightened their loads by 75kg – equivalent to three bags of cement or an empty industrial gas cylinder – they could save a total of around £50 million on fuel each year. This would also result in around 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being released.
How many of your drivers treat their van, or car, as a mobile storeroom for rarely needed equipment or parts? By simply educating drivers on being aware of necessary and unnecessary objects in their vehicles, fleet operators can save a substantial amount of money across the year.
Drivers should also thoroughly prepare for each job, ensuring that any tools or equipment they are carrying are the correct ones; thereby ensuring no further weight is placed in the back of their vans.
Reducing the amount of additional weight in your vans will not only improve their fuel economy, but could reveal that the vans are bigger than necessary, with underutilised space. As a result, you could consider downsizing and opting for smaller, more economical vans that better suit your operational needs.