This opportunity could be summarised as the purchase of trucks that are appropriate for their purpose. The primary objective should be to obtain a vehicle that is neither over-specified for its intended function (excessive weight, performance and cost) nor under-specified (requiring overloading, intensive use, accelerated component failures and high fuel consumption). The principles apply equally to truck bodies and trailers as they do to the base vehicle.

Application relevance

Some new truck dealers offer simulation or modelling programs that can help customers determine the most appropriate specification for their new truck in its particular duty cycle or application. Yet, with the heavy vehicle fleet in Australia being quite old by international standards, the opportunity applies equally to specifying new vehicles (e.g. gear ratios, engine size, cab design) as it does to selecting used vehicles for purchase.

In terms of fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions, some state governments are developing buying guides and rating systems to assist operators in evaluating their fuel consumption and greenhouse performance against a set of industry benchmarks. The principles of ‘fit for purpose’ procurement can be implemented whenever vehicles are due for replacement, refurbishment or upgrade.

Potential benefits

Poorly-specified trucks waste fuel and cost more to operate than necessary. By ensuring that trucks are well-suited for their purpose instead of just newer, bigger and more powerful, operators can achieve the lowest consumption per unit of power. Whole-of-life costs and maintenance costs are also reduced when engines and drivetrains are not overworked.

Key implementation considerations

Trucks with larger engines can provide greater flexibility within a fleet to cover a greater range of tasks. However, this flexibility must be weighed against the cost of running larger engine class vehicles if smaller trucks would also perform the task at lower cost to the operator. An important supplementary opportunity is ensuring that drivers are trained to operate their truck in the most efficient manner.

Examples of implementation

Truck Buyers Guides 

The Truck Buyers Guide is a joint initiative by the Victorian, New South Wales and Australian governments aimed at informing the reader and promoting the uptake of low emission small trucks. For more information, see Department of Infrastructure and Transport (2011) Department of Infrastructure and Transport 2011, About the Truck Buyers Guide

BOC Ltd 

This case study by the UK Department for Transport (2011) follows the progress of BOC. By revising their procurement policy and modifying the specification of their vehicles BOC managed to reduce fuel consumption by 3.6%. This was achieved by the simple act of replacing wide single tyres on the steer axle with standard tyres and achieved a cost saving of almost £1000. Although this is a UK example it still illustrates the impact that such a measure can have across a vehicle fleet. For more information, see: 

For the full report, see Fuel for Thought – Identifying potential energy efficiency opportunities in the Australian road and rail sectors (opens in a new window) PDF 1.5 MB.