UK businesses could save £50m by lightening the load

UK fleet businesses could save around £50m a year by reducing unnecessary weight in the back of vans and light goods vehicles, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST).

Businesses that operate fleets of light goods vehicles (LGVs) of up to 3.5 tonnes – which range from car-derived vans to Luton vans – could take simple steps to increase fuel efficiency.

EST estimate that if half the LGV drivers in the UK lightened their loads by 75 kilograms, which is equivalent to three bags of cement or an empty industrial gas cylinder, they could save around £50m on fuel each year.

This would result in 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Previous research found that a typical van – driving the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) regulatory test cycle – used 8% more fuel when fully laden, compared to being driven empty.

However, new research carried out by low carbon and fuel cell technology delivery agency Cenex, on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust, has modelled the impact of weight on fuel consumption using real-world driving conditions.

The research compared empty and fully loaded LGVs on typical urban and rural driving routes, which more accurately represent realistic driving conditions.

Under urban driving conditions the research found that a typical car-derived van, such as a Volkswagen Caddy, will use around 26% less fuel when empty compared to when fully loaded.

For panel vans such as the Peugeot Boxer, the difference in fuel consumption was up to 33%.

EST senior knowledge manager Tim Anderson said: “Drivers often treat commercial vans as mobile store rooms for rarely needed equipment or parts, reducing the vehicle’s fuel economy. In addition, items such as unused roof racks add to air resistance which increases fuel consumption.

“Reducing the amount of additional weight in a vehicle will not only improve their fuel economy but it may also reveal that they have more space than they need.

“As a result, businesses could consider downsizing their fleets and opting for smaller, more economical vehicles which better suit their company needs.”

Conor McGlone

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