Is your company buying too much truck? Do you really need that diesel-powered 1-ton dually 4x4 Crew Cab long-bed pickup for the foreman just to drive from jobsite to jobsite? Have you done payload and weight analysis for the actual needs of your truck fleet to purchase just enough truck? Not sure what you really need? Need more help configuring the proper vehicle for the job from your vehicle provider? 

These are just a few questions you can ask yourself regarding the configuration of your company's truck fleet. Many businesses have become comfortable with the types of trucks they purchase or lease for use in their fleet without noticing the vehicle specs have changed over the years or the job the truck is required to accomplish every day has moved in a different direction. 

Hard Habit to Break

Sometimes, this comfort level translates into buying heavier payloads and GVWRs than really needed. Case in point: the domestic cargo van manufacturers have increased the GVW ratings of their vans over the years. Now, one company's van with a "½-ton" nominal rating has a higher GVW rating than the same company's "¾-ton" van had just a few years ago.  

It is a hard habit to break, buying a ¾-ton van because you think you really need it, when the ½-ton model would do the job just fine.  

The same situation exists with weight ratings and payloads of most pickup trucks and chassis cabs offered in today's market. GVW and payloads have crept up to a point where a truck purchased today isn't the same truck with the same model designation available 10 years ago. 

Audit Can Save Costs & Simplify Choices

A size audit may be the answer not only to save your company money, but also to simplify your fleet's vehicle choices. First, determine exactly what the vehicle must accomplish in its daily routine. For example, for delivery type vehicles:  

  • What is the payload requirement?
  • What is the cargo volume (physical size)?
  • Must the cargo be protected, not exposed to the elements?
  • Does the driver need to access any cargo before exiting the vehicle or is exterior access to cargo available?
  • Does the driver load up first thing with the entire day's deliveries or will he or she return to reload?
  • How many miles per day, week, month, or year does the vehicle travel? A smaller engine may fit the job and save fuel and money in the process.
  • Does the truck travel inner city or highway miles? The correct engine/transmission/axle ratio combination can save fuel. This factor is critical on Class 7-8 trucks (26,000 lb. GVWR and higher) for which the powertrain needs to be spec'd for optimal performance. 

Answers to many of these questions can help you decide if a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle can be used in place of the old large truck the company has been using "forever." 

Choose Fuel-Efficient Components

More fuel-efficient components can also be chosen. For example, highway-tread tires create less rolling resistance than on/off road-tread tires. Don't forget proper tire inflation helps reduce fuel consumption as well.  

A smaller or more aerodynamic vehicle and/or truck body featuring less frontal area can offer better fuel economy by creating less rolling wind resistance. Tonneau covers or caps on pickups help with fuel savings.  

A similar-sized audit can be used for virtually any type of work truck in the marketplace, from delivery to utility vehicles and everything in between. Such an audit can easily determine the correct pickup truck and cargo van requirements as well. 

Setting aside personal preference can be a big help in determining the right truck for the job. Sometimes, it is difficult to view a vehicle with an unbiased eye to determine the best choice. We all have our favorite brands and models. Take a step back and look at all the offerings in the marketplace. You'll be amazed at what you will find.