An increase in fuel consumption of more than 20% between an unladen panel van and the same vehicle carrying 75% of its maximum payload has been recorded in controlled trials.
The trials were designed to underline the importance of ensuring that LCVs are only carrying the load needed on any given journey.
A popular SWB panel van was driven in controlled conditions over a 49.1 mile course for the test at 0%, 25%, 50% and 75% of its 1,079kg maximum payload. The tests were all at the same time of day, an ‘eco’ driving style was used, and the air-conditioning was switched off. The results were as follows:
Payload used Fuel consumption Increase in fuel use
0% 35.74mpg -
25% 33.79mpg 5.4%
50% 30.97mpg 13.3%
75% 28.16mpg 21.2%
“Fleet operators know that payload has an impact on fuel consumption, but are perhaps not aware of the degree,” said Adam Cresswell of Arval, which conducted the survey. “These results are marked. A van that is carrying a 75% payload is using a fifth more fuel, which is a considerable cost increase.
“This has direct operational implications, the most immediate and direct of which is to ensure your vans are not carrying any weight that isn’t needed. This is something that needs to be communicated effectively to drivers.
“In the medium term, you should also endeavour to raise driver awareness of the payload of their vehicle and how to use it to maximum advantage. Vehicles should be clearly labelled with payload information and education for drivers is very useful.
“It is also worth considering the question of storage systems. Good, modern, lightweight racking can help to maximise the carrying capacity and payload of a vehicle and generally increase its efficiency in use.
“Finally, this is an issue that can influence the selection of vehicles. A smaller vehicle operating near its payload capacity will always be a more cost-effective transport choice than an under-utilised, larger van.”