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Fuel for thought…reducing diesel consumption

By Will Perrott

In the current environment, with Coronavirus taking control from us in so many aspects of our lives, we’re all learning to find the positives in situations. I’ve found some encouraging statistics around our diesel consumption reduction. Based on data generated just before the country went into lockdown, it’s another contribution to Clean Air’s battle to reduce our carbon footprint.

The broken van opportunity

Unfortunately, the engine on one of our large transit vans blew. It was our oldest vehicle, so for us the upside is that we get to replace it with a new, more fuel-efficient and lower emissions model.

The mild-hybrid diesel consumption comparison

We’re still waiting for an electric van that can fulfil our requirements to be produced. So, last December we bought our first mild-hybrid van and the obvious choice is to buy another. But first, I wanted to test our assumptions. I compared the mild hybrid’s diesel consumption with another van in our fleet. It’s the same model with a standard diesel engine.

I looked at the fuel consumption over the preceding 6 weeks. Both vans had covered similar distances and done a very similar mix of local and motorway journeys. As expected, the mild hybrid was more fuel-efficient, covering 10% more miles per gallon.

This sounds impressive but over the vehicle’s typical lifetime it equates to a financial saving of just over the extra up-front cost of the vehicle. Obviously, lowering our carbon footprint is key to our company ethos. We’ve even agreed to take a financial hit in some areas if we judge that the carbon savings justify it. So we’ll celebrate a cost-neutral position as a win and order the mild hybrid.

The good news

What really surprised me was the fuel economy of both vehicles. It was much higher than we expected. I think this is due to a new approach to how we travel to and from jobs. Last September we reinforced to our drivers that they must observe speed limits at all times. We introduced a compliance monitoring system, and alongside this, we conducted a review to ensure we were issuing sufficient hours for journeys. At our Christmas party award ceremony, the Eco Warrior title went to the driver with the best performance.

These measures have made a big difference to our average fuel consumption. Our newest vans are now achieving mid to high thirties mpg. Fuel for the vans is a big part of our carbon footprint so it’s very satisfying to see our actions having such a positive effect.

We’re also signed up to the Clean Van Commitment, an initiative to demonstrate the appetite for electric-powered vans to vehicle manufacturers. As we update our fleet, we expect to see continued improvements.

Let me know what changes have led to your biggest carbon reductions – I’m always looking for new initiatives.

Will Perrott

About The Author

Will Perrott - Managing Director

Will has considerable experience in the laboratory market. He has been MD of a market-leading laboratory furniture design and manufacture company for 20 years, and spent seven years with ELE International, specialising in the sales and marketing of lab equipment and environmental instrumentation

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