Companies that regularly make a comparison of fuel consumption summer vs winter know that indeed cold weather lowers fuel economy significantly. As such, trucking companies must strategize carefully to maximize their fleet’s fuel efficiency during winter months.
Why is Fuel Consumption Higher in Winter?
Vehicles are just like people. Both simply have more difficulties getting through winter.
A study conducted by the Oak Ridge National Library showed that some vehicles lose as much as one-third of their fuel economy when the temperature drops to 20 degrees. Fuel economy is even worse off when vehicles are driving in colder weather and shorter distances. The research’s fuel economy tests revealed that a conventional gasoline vehicle’s gas mileage for short city driving is roughly 12% reduced at 20 degrees Fahrenheit when compared to driving at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
But there are other explanations for the lowered fuel economy. The study found out that the below factors also contribute to the reduction in fuel economy.
The snow-covered or icy road condition also decreases traction. Thus, there is higher fuel wastage when a vehicle is literally spinning on its wheels
Vehicles slow down on wet and icy roads, consuming more fuel as vehicles are generally designed to have optimal mileage at highway speeds.
Cold weather forces higher usage of energy for defrosters, blower fans, and seat heaters
Vehicle fluids like oil, also increase the vehicle’s internal friction as well as the time it takes to reach the optimal operating temperature
Does winter gas affect mileage? Gasoline in winter results in reduced levels of energy per gallon when compared to warmer weather gas.
The alternator runs often in winter, making the battery run less efficiently
How Can I Improve My Gas Mileage in the Winter?
Every transportation company concerns itself with proper fuel management, especially during winter months. Here are some strategies on fuel management every fleet manager should keep in mind
Utilizing relevant data available
Fuel management is quite impossible without the right data. One wouldn’t know if there are improvements if relevant information is unavailable for comparison. As such, tracking every data starting from fuel levels to driver performance is essential in identifying pain points. No one would know if current programs or measures are effective if there’ is dearth in data. Thus, all relevant historical information including winter fuel consumption per driver, routes taken by each truck among others should be well recorded and stored.
Investing in driver training
Driver performance matters a lot in fuel management given that driving and maintenance behaviors affect each trucks’ miles per gallon consumption. Consistent training of drivers on best practices for winter driving is a must.
Companies must conduct winter training with all fleet drivers every fall. The training should be designed to reorient drivers on the seasonal safety measures and fuel economy guide. It is important to share historical data and past fuel efficiency performance of the company with the drivers to stress the necessity of complying with the safety and efficiency guidelines.
Smart preventive vehicle maintenance
Every fleet manager should keep track of all vehicle maintenance records, especially the inspection reports throughout the year. In winter months, having and analyzing these reports are beneficial since they can point to which parts are far from performing at optimal levels. Knowing which part and vehicle among the fleet need special attention, and additional care will go a long way in keeping fuel consumption at manageable levels during cold months.
It’s a given that the winter season will give more headaches to companies and fleet managers in managing fuel economy. Fortunately, there are strategies for cold weather fuel management including using relevant data for performance monitoring, driver training, and smart preventive vehicle maintenance that every fleet manager can use for better fuel economy.