Factors influencing the energy consumption of road freight transport

  • Odhams A
  • Roebuck R
  • Lee Y
 et al. 
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Key factors that influence the energy consumption of heavy goods vehicles are inves-tigated. These factors include engine efficiency, aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance, vehicle configuration (number of vehicle units), traffic congestion, speed, payload factors, and the use of regenerative braking. An accurate, validated model of the fuel consumption of a 38 tonne tractor-semitrailer vehicle is used as a basis to derive fuel consumption models of a number of other vehicle configura-tions. These models included a rigid four-axle truck with maximum gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 26 tonnes; a six-axle tractor semitrailer with GVM of 44 tonnes, with and without regenerative braking; a 'B-double' with GVM of 60 tonnes; and an 'A-double' with GVM of 82 tonnes. These vehicle models were driven over a simple hypothetical drive cycle with a fixed maximum speed and varying numbers of stops in a 10 km stretch of road. It is concluded that: (a) improving engine efficiency, unladen mass, rolling resistance, and aerodynamic drag can yield relatively small improvements in fuel consumption, compared with other factors; (b) larger vehicles are always significantly more energy-efficient than smaller ones when fully loaded; (c) transferring freight from articulated vehicles to smaller rigid vehicles for urban deliveries typically increases fuel consumption by approximately 35 per cent; (d) running vehicles partially loaded can increase the energy per unit freight task by up to 65 per cent; and (e) under urban start–stop conditions, the use of regenerative braking systems can reduce heavy vehicle fuel consumption by 25–35 per cent.

Author-supplied keywords

  • aerodynamic drag
  • drive cycle
  • fuel consumption
  • heavy goods vehicles
  • regenerative braking
  • rolling resistance
  • traffic congestion

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  • A M C Odhams

  • R L Roebuck

  • Y J Lee

  • S W Hunt

  • D Cebon

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