Commercial vehicles - the business of fuel efficiency

European manufacturers have long championed fuel efficiency, building a reputation for efficient commercial vehicles that are also safe and of the highest quality. There is a clear business case for continuous improvement, as the main operating cost for a transport company is fuel.

Fuel efficiency is also key to improving the environmental performance of the vehicle. Trucks and light commercial vehicles are crucial to the economy. They carry nearly 80% of all freight in industrialised countries and deliver around 70kg of goods to each European citizen every day. A modern truck burns around 30% less fuel than one made in the 1970s. That translates to fuel consumption of just one litre of diesel per 100 tonnekilometres, with corresponding CO2 benefits.


Continuous innovation

Innovation has delivered progress in diesel drivetrains. Now all truck makers are working on hybrid technology, which can cut fuel consumption by 15 – 20%. Many also have models capable of running on alternative fuels like bioethanol and compressed natural gas (CNG) while trials involving commercial vehicles and buses fitted with hydrogen fuel cells are taking place. Development of telematics and fleet management bring further efficiency improvements – cutting emissions and helping boost business efficiency.

Manufacturers now offer systems that can assess truck and driver performance in-use, producing reports for logistics teams back at base. Driver training programmes, which improve skills and boost fuel efficiency, can be deployed where needed. Stop-start traffic triples fuel emissions of a truck, emphasising the environmental benefits of investment in roads and the development of an intelligent infrastructure to encourage traffic flow and prevent unnecessary hold-ups.

Vision 20-20

The European commercial vehicle manufacturers are striving to improve further. To underline their determination, the sector has united behind the Vision 20-20, announced at the Hanover motorshow in 2008. This frames technology progress with other factors and actors that will help cut CO2. The direct contribution from commercial vehicle manufacturers in the Vision 20-20 is to further decrease a modern truck’s fuel consumption by an average 20% per tonnekilometre by the year 2020 compared to 2005. In addition, the industry will actively help strike a balance between mobility and environmental protection through a partnership with political leaders, the fuel industry, the hauliers, vehicle operators and, last but not least, the drivers themselves. The manufacturers’ ambitious strategy fits in the EU objective to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20% towards 2020.

last updated 08/05/2009