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Fuel Consumption Of Heavy Trucks – A Comprehensive Overview

My blog is all about the fuel and energy consumption of trucks

You will get to know the functions and technology of the vehicles. You will explore the full scope of the topic and recognize the connections between the different factors. In the end, you will recognize potential for improvement and weigh up options for action.

You will learn things that will help you in your job.

If you are not in this industry, perhaps it is still interesting and worth knowing for you. Much of what you will read in my blog can also be transferred to cars.

I’ll explain what’s worth knowing in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way so that you can enjoy reading.

In this article, I will give you a comprehensive overview of the entire topic.

It serves as a guide through the material and will help you to choose your focal points and to guide you to further information in other articles.

If you want to jump directly to a topic, click on a link in the table of contents:

Is it still worth learning diesel consumption optimization?

Does it still make sense to optimize fuel consumption when electrically powered vehicles are the future?

In any case, it makes sense! In both cases, we are talking about energy consumption.

Today, I ask: “Why is my truck so thirsty?”

Tomorrow, I will ask: “Why does my truck draw so much electricity?”

The answers aren’t as different as the questions suggest.

I am going to look into both.

  • The fuel consumption of vehicles with internal combustion engines.
  • The energy consumption of vehicles with alternative drives.

You will see that many subject areas apply equally to both types of drive. But of course, I will also write in detail about the differences.

General information on the subject of fuel consumption.

The subject of fuel consumption should always be looked at in the context of environmentalism, society, and politics.

In the category, You want to know that, you will find information about those related topics.

Climate change and environmental protection are very important reasons why the fuel consumption of vehicles with internal combustion engines must be reduced.

In the recent past, this topic has moved more and more into the center of public discussion.

I’ve been working on the problem for many years, much longer than Greta Thunberg was talking about. This is not new to me!

The internal combustion engine as a method of propulsion

At the beginning of its development, the internal combustion engine was seen as a great step forward. It enriched people’s lives.

It enabled personal mobility for large parts of the population and stimulated business and trade through efficient, professional transport.

This has now become indispensable normality and is no longer talked about.

People today are increasingly concerned about the side effects of this mobility and its impact on the environment

I find it important to understand these concerns, so I will write about them.

One example is the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption, which you will learn about in the article: 7 facts about CO2 and why it comes from the exhaust.

It is also exciting what the regulators come up with to increase motivation to reduce energy consumption.

So that too has to be a topic on my blog.

The electric motor as a method of propulsion

The replacement of the internal combustion engine by electric drives should solve the problem. Is that the ultimate solution?

In any case, many interesting aspects have to be explained and understood if the transport is to be CO2 neutral, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

This topic will occupy me intensively in the next few years, and I will let you participate in it.

With this type of drive, too, we will be concerned with optimizing consumption.

The aspect of profitability in transport

In combustion technology, fuel costs are an essential factor for the financial feasibility. It needs to be tweaked to increase profitability.

Profitability improvement has always been a driver for working on measures to reduce consumption. The fuel consumption of trucks has therefore been falling continuously for many, many years. (You can read more about this in this article at Eurotransport.de.)

In the next few years, the focus will be more and more on economic efficiency as a means of political pressure to implement expensive measures to reduce consumption.

I am thinking of road tolls and CO2 taxes.

– Also an exciting topic. –

I will look into the practical suitability of the trucks during operation and into governmental incentives for alternative drive vehicles. This will keep me busy for the next few years.

Incentivization is the opposite of the just described punishment, using higher costs. The state gives money to promote desired technologies.

The improvement in practicality ultimately also means an improvement in profitability for the entrepreneur.

These are all exciting topics. I’m curious to see how the general topic category will develop over the next few years.

The physical basics

The category, You want to know that, will also contain information about the physical basics of the matter.

Most of it you have already learned in school.

These basics are very important for understanding.

So we are going to wipe the dust on the memories. I promise it will not be complicated. I am writing these articles in a very simple and practical way.

How often do we talk about power, work, energy?

Do you remember what these terms really mean? You can read it in the article: Energy, Work, Power.

Sure, it’s logical that fuel consumption is somehow related to power, work, and energy, but how exactly?

It’s kind of weird.

We refer to electrical energy as electrical energy. For chemical energy, we say diesel or gasoline.

Both are forms of energy that we consume.

This is another misconception.

We don’t consume it. We convert it into kinetic energy so that the load can be moved forward.

Does that make you curious? Good!

How do the systems work in the vehicle and on what physical basis?

I find it very exciting and entertaining to establish the connection between physics and technology.

Somehow, it’s just fun when you can say to yourself: “Now I understand how it all relates!”

But what is even more important:

With an understanding of the physical fundamentals, it is possible to use and operate the systems more efficiently and with better results.

The result is lower costs, less environmental pollution, and better driving performance.

Measure the fuel consumption

The category Determining consumption is about determining the correct fuel consumption.

Believe me, it is not that easy to find out, how large the fuel consumption of your vehicle/vehicle fleet really is. Lots of mistakes happen.

But this information is incredibly important!

In the article 4 Ways To Determine The Correct Fuel Consumption, you can get an overview of the different methods to acquire fuel consumption information and learn in which situation which method is helpful.

Every professional optimization starts with a baseline.

Measures are then derived from this, implemented and their effectiveness measured.

What I have summarized here briefly is the PDCA cycle. It has been discovered by Shewhart and Deming in the 1930th. It is a method for continuous improvement.

  • P stands for “plan” – Analyzing the current situation and recognizing the potential for improvement.
  • D stands for “Do” – Quickly trying out the measure.
  • C stands for “Check” – Measuring and validating the improvement.
  • A stands for “Act” – Rolling out the measures across the board and adapting the business to the new level of knowledge.

Alternatively, you can just change something and hope for the best. Sometimes it might also surprise you with a positive effect.

I prefer a more systematic approach.

With me, you will learn to optimize methodically and sustainably.

For this it is essential to take the following steps:

  • To measure correctly
  • To use the correct measuring method
  • To recognize and take into account measuring errors.

I am going to describe that in great detail.

One method is fleet monitoring, which I explain in several articles.

There is a method for successful improvement!

A colleague once said to me:

“Because I don’t know when I will have an idea, I don’t commit to any deadlines,”

I am not satisfied with this attitude.

Recognizing improvement measures is not a matter of luck; it is hard work and requires a professional approach.

I will explain this process in detail using specific examples.

At this point, I want to reveal that it is not enough to measure fuel consumption. Other influencing factors on fuel consumption must be recorded and evaluated as well.

All in all a very exciting topic, there is a lot to do here. I’m looking forward to it!

The driving resistances

The “driving resistances” suck the energy out of the vehicle— but sometimes they also give energy back —

The word “resistance” already says it all. Resistance somehow means that it will be hard to move. Usually, resistance is something that opposes movement.

However, transport is movement and therefore every driving resistance is bad in the first place!

To overcome the resistance and move forward, you must invest energy,

The relation between resistance, work, and energy will be explained in the “You want to know that” chapter. (From a physical point of view, resistance is a force.)

In the “Optimize consumption“ chapter, the aim is to understand the respective driving resistances and to optimize them in a targeted manner.

I deliberately don’t write “reduce”, but “optimize”. Some resistances can turn around, then suddenly they are no longer bad, but advantageous.

The driver assistance systems

I’m not telling you a secret when I say:

The driver has a great influence on fuel consumption.

So you have to deal with your drivers if you want to reduce fuel consumption.

If you are a driver yourself, then you will want to optimize your driving style.

There are two ways to do this.

Train drivers and use driver assistance systems that support the driver.

Controlling the driver’s fuel consumption is not to be understood negatively!

Even as a driver, you want to know how good your driving style is and how to improve it in a targeted manner. The method of continuous improvement applies here as well.

Driver assistance systems must also be understood, used correctly, and continuously improved.

In today’s world, technology already has capabilities that go beyond human capabilities. We’re looking at that closely.

I will write in detail about how driver assistance systems work, what limits and limitations they have. But also where they are superior to a human driver.

You will be able to read about this in the category driver assistance systems.

It is very, very important to understand driver assistance systems exactly.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to judge which truck with its assistance system promises a consumption advantage. To do this, you must be able to understand, control and plausibility check the information provided by the manufacturer.

I will give you the tools to do this, but I leave the formation of your own opinion up to you.

The drive train efficiency

Of course, we also need to look at the drive train and its losses

A drive train is an energy conversion device that always generates some heat as a waste product.

However, this waste heat is relatively useless. All energy and therefore fuel costs that end in waste heat are a waste of money. (Well, maybe apart from the heating in winter.)

Efficiency is defined as the ratio between the energy invested and the drive work that can be used.

So input versus output.

In the case of the internal combustion engine, it is an absolute disaster. More than half of the energy that is put into it ends up as waste heat.

If the engineers had not optimized the efficiency of the combustion powertrains, it would be even worse.

There is no doubt. The efficiency has to be improved continuously, although it is becoming more and more difficult.

Over the years of continuous optimization of the combustion drive trains, all simple improvement measures have been found and implemented. Finding and implementing further optimizations is becoming more and more complex and expensive.

In several articles I will go in detail on this matter.

How is it with the electric drive?

The efficiency of electric drives can be significantly better than that of combustion engines. depending on which technology is used. (Battery vs. Fuel Cell) In addition, there is the possibility of energy recovery.

However, a lot less energy fits into the vehicle. When it comes to electric drives, we're talking less about energy costs than about range. At least for the next few years.

Even if the motivation is different, the subject of “drive train efficiency” will be of great interest also at the electric drives.


As you can see, this is a huge topic. It will take me a long time to write down everything I know and am still learning.

In the end, you will be an expert in the field!

Over time, I will get past the functionality of many of the truck’s technical systems. I suspect that in the end, there won’t be a lot of the truck left that I won’t have written about.

If you are urgently interested in something that you cannot find here, just let me know, and I will integrate it or answer you directly.

Since I write the block in my spare time, you have to be patient with me. It will take me some time to write all of the important articles.

You are welcome to leave me your e-mail in the contact form, with the request to inform you when there is a new article.

The advantage of the blog format is that I can write article by article about the different content step by step, and you can also read article by article and don’t have to memorize everything at once.

I hope you enjoy reading it and I hope you find it interesting.

Feel free to give me comments I can read, questions that I can answer, or tips on how I can improve.

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