Fleet News

‘Own up’ call on van mpgs

BRITAIN’S van fleet operators have urged commercial vehicle manufacturers to come clean over fuel economy figures.

The call comes after it was revealed that, from January next year, all vans under 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight will have to be officially tested.

At present, there is no legal requirement for van manufacturers to publish miles-per-gallon figures – and most don’t.

From next year, all vans will have to be tested for fuel economy, empty and on a rolling road, with independent assessors from the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) on hand to verify them.

However, the new rules fall short of requiring the manufacturers to make these figures available to fleets.

Sustainable transport consultant Simon Collings said: ‘I am constantly frustrated when fleet managers ask me which are the most fuel-efficient vehicles.

Until we see legislation requiring fuel economy data to be reported, fleet managers will have to continue work in a knowledge vacuum and rely on anecdotal evidence. This is just plain ridiculous considering the cost and environmental implications.’

ACFO, which represents the UK’s van fleet operators, welcomed the new move. Director Stewart Whyte said: ‘Many of our members have been concerned that while this information has been freely available from some forward-looking manufacturers, others have failed to release the data ‘because they don’t have to’.

‘In this day and age, it really is essential that fleet managers can have immediate access to reliable, consistent fuel consumption data as part of their selection processes.’

Of the vehicle manufacturers spoken to by Fleet News, some were unaware of the new requirement and others questioned the relevance of fuel-testing empty vans when virtually all are driven with some form of cargo on board.

There was also concern that on a rolling road, a less aerodynamic high-roof van would give the same fuel economy figures as a low-roof version, whereas on the road the figures would be very different.

However, a spokesman for the VCA told Fleet News: ‘At least it will be a level playing field for all the models so that buyers will be able to judge if one model is more fuel-efficient than another.

Also, we will be factoring in things like wind resistance in to the official figures.’

Citroën is the first manufacturer to announce that it will be publishing mpg figures for all its vans when the new tests start. CV operations manager Robert Handyside said fuel economy figures for the new Dispatch had already been published and this policy would now continue.

He added: ‘Citroën has always been happy to help fleets with fuel economy figures as we have nothing to hide. Our engines are extremely economical and we will be happy to make all our figures known to the public.’

The only major van manufacturer that publishes full mpg figures at present is Volkswagen. A spokesman for the firm said: ‘We have published fuel consumption figures since the mid 1970s.

‘The company believes in being open with customers and offering them the essential information they need to make wise purchasing decisions.’

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