Increasingly stringent environmental standards continue to put the spotlight on diesel’s environmental performance. At the same time, alternative fuels and a growing interest in electric vehicles are generating headlines. However, diesel’s days as a fuel for commercial vehicles are far from over, although some myths about its performance remain.
MYTH: Diesel has lost its appeal and popularity.
Recent conversation around diesel might suggest it has lost its popularity but according to recently published research, 96% of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the European Union run on diesel1. The reasons for its continuing popularity in the commercial vehicle sector are clear: diesel currently has a higher energy content than other fuels, offers great driving range, stronger low-end torque for towing and hauling, greater fuel efficiency, is quick to refuel and supports good truck engine durability. Diesel units also remain some of the most efficient combustion engines available. And with the latest technology, they have become cleaner, too.
MYTH: Alternative fuels and engines will replace diesel in the near future.
It is true that biodiesel, natural gas, fuel cells and electricity are all gaining traction. Public transport is a high-profile example. However, in the commercial vehicle sector alternative fuel options have made less headway, especially in the long-haul market; in fact, the number of heavy trucks on Europe’s roads is increasing. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) the number of medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles registered across the European Union during the first half of 2019 increased on average by over 16% compared with the same period in 20182.
MYTH: All diesel fuels are essentially the same.
It’s really just a matter of finding the cheapest price.
There is a belief that all diesels are the same and price is therefore the most significant criteria for making a purchasing decision. However, all diesel fuels are not equal. For example, many bulk diesel deliveries do not contain detergent additives. Those that do can be designed to help prevent the formation of deposits on fuel injectors, which otherwise degrade engine power and fuel economy over time. Some diesel fuels are optimised to not only keep injectors clean but also remove existing deposits. The additional detergency contributes to improved fuel efficiency and may reduce the need for maintenance. For example, ExxonMobil has developed Esso Diesel Efficient™ fuel, which is designed to clean up deposits on fuel injectors, helping to improve engine performance.
Trials at Millbrook, one of the most comprehensive independent vehicle testing facilities in the world, found that Esso Diesel Efficient™ fuel helped to reduce emissions3 by 10% for NOx, 22% for particulate matter and 2.8% for CO2 while also improving fuel consumption on average by 2.8%.
Diesel continues to play a vital commercial role worldwide
Diesel engine and fuel technology will continue to evolve, as will alternative options. This will ensure that fleet owners have increasing access to the solutions they need to meet both commercial and regulatory requirements without compromising operations. However, the bottom line is that diesel remains critical to the commercial vehicle market – now and into the future. Fleet owners should therefore work with suppliers that offer consistently high quality diesel to ensure they get the full benefits of the latest performance-enhancing formulations.
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3 Independent tests performed at Millbrook Proving Ground Ltd., UK:
- Compared the performance in heavy-duty vehicles of Esso™ unadditised diesel with Esso Diesel Efficient™ fuel
- Used third-party customer trucks (Euro III and Euro V specifications)
- Covered approximately 110,000 miles/177,000 km
- Five months of normal daily on-road operations (motorway, rural, and urban environments)
- Took trucks out of service periodically for lab testing
- Test results range of 2.1% to 3.4% lower fuel consumption
Millbrook has expertise in automotive, test, and propulsion technologies and remain pioneers in low carbon development. (ISO Certification - ISO 17025, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.)
Esso Diesel Efficient™ fuel claims are based on internal and third-party vehicle engine testing, laboratory testing, and/or industry or other scientific literature. Basis for comparison for all claims is versus Esso™ unadditised diesel. Vehicle type, engine type, driving behaviour, and other factors also impact fuel and vehicle performance, emissions, and fuel economy. Esso Diesel Efficient™ fuel may be used in all heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles, but results may vary. Fuel economy testing was performed in the UK using on-road trucks.
Ermyn Way, Leatherhead, Surrey,