Weighing the cost of a new van

EA is in the business of improving the quality and availability of data in the automotive sector and so we will soon be introducing on-road testing for light commercial vehicles in the UK, helping consumers make informed decisions about which vehicle to buy with an easy to use miles per gallon calculator.

A major contributing factor to fuel economy for vans and pickup trucks is the load on board. So, in addition to our standard fuel economy test, we will include repeat cycles with the vehicle fully laden at its maximum payload. This will enable the buyer to consider how they expect to use the vehicle and find out what effect this will have on their fuel consumption.

In a 2014 report, the RAC Foundation found that the carriage of equipment, and delivery and collection of goods accounted for 79% of the mileage of light commercial vehicles in the UK. However, this is unquantified in the official tests.

The regulators would argue that testing vans and trucks unladen provides a level playing field, allowing for comparisons between vehicles. Yet in this sector of the market, carrying capacity varies within a CO2 class. The fully laden Ford Transit Courier can carry 112kg (247lb) more than the Vauxhall Corsavan but both record CO2 of 103g/km. In theory they should give the same fuel economy – but only if driven empty!

USA perspective

Although the EPA’s five-cycle test regime produces official figures which, on average, more closely match real-world performance than in Europe, the test still does not account for a fully-loaded vehicle.

Thus the question facing the consumer, who is purchasing a vehicle for its intended purpose, to carry stuff, is the same on both sides of the Atlantic – how much will it really cost to run?

We have been addressing this issue from our Motor Trend test centre in Los Angeles, looking into the impact of variable payload. For example, when we packed the Nissan NV200 with bags of cement increasing its payload to 1132lb (513kg) – its maximum is 1470lb (667kg), and drove it on our 88-mile (142km) city and highway test route, we saw a reduction in fuel economy from 25mpg to 22mpg (US gallons). Read more. Based on the average distance driven of 15,000 miles, that equates to an additional 82 gallons (310l) of fuel per year, which multiplied by the 8 million or so new commercial vehicles registered each year is a lot of extra gas.

Nissan NV200







Vans and pickups are an increasingly important sector for UK and US drivers, so this data will help us understand their real-world performance. Watch this space for trends and observations as UK testing gets underway in March 2015.