Fleet News

Department for Transport study downplays weight effect on emissions

The perception that loading a van with cargo has a major effect on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions has been firmly dismissed by research commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Small, medium and large vans were tested at the Millbrook Proving Ground by AEA Technology when they were empty, half loaded and fully loaded and it was discovered that despite being 50% heavier when laden, the vehicles only emitted around 7-8% more CO2.

The research was carried out as part of a Europe-wide effort to reduce the amount of noxious gases emitted by light commercial vehicles.

While car emissions dropped by 3% between 2004 and 2006, van emissions rose by 22%. Average van emissions at present are 207g/km and the EU is hoping to reduce this by 175g/km by 2016.

John Norris, who led the research team, said: “While we can’t comment on our reactions to this report, we are recommending that loading characteristics should be re-evaluated and debated in the light of this relatively important knowledge.”

One of the problems in reducing emissions from vans is that, unlike cars, they require powerful engines to carry heavy loads. Norris said: “Operational factors need to be included in the defining of the most environmentally-friendly vans because vans with the lowest CO2 emissions may not be able to carry the weight that needs to be moved.”


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