So, you've read my introduction into "eco-vans"; now it's time to get a model-by-model low down on what they're all about. The first van model we'll take a look at is a variant of Britain's best-selling van for 45 years, the Ford Transit "ECOnetic".
Here's the VANorak's quick reference to work out the potential fuel cost savings, based on diesel costing £1.35 per litre, which is about the average at time of writing. If fuel prices go up (which let's face it they probably will!), so will your savings:
- 5,000 miles per annum = £76 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
- 12,000 miles per annum = £182 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
- 15,000 miles per annum = £228 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
- 20,000 miles per annum = £304 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
- 50,000 miles per annum = £760 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
- 100,000 miles per annum = £1520 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
Okay, back to task. How does Ford accomplish these figures? Well, it's done by a combination of things, some so minor that on their own they would make very little difference to fuel economy, but when done in conjunction with the other tweaks, they all add up to a healthy fuel saving package:
- Engine mapping optimised for fuel efficiency. The Power Control Module, or PCM is programmed specifically to operate the common rail injectors in the most fuel-efficient way.
- Longer gearing - By fitting the larger 16" wheels to the ECOnetic, rather than the 15" one usually fitted to the FWD Transit, Ford have managed to fit a more efficient 4.36:1 final drive ratio which couples with the next point...
- 6-Speed Gearbox - Now standard on all FWD Transits with 115ps or 140ps engines, this gearbox gives you an extra "economy gear" or "cruising gear", which is designed to offer optimum fuel economy once you reach cruising speeds.
- Speed Limiter set at 70 mph. Whether you're a serial speeder or have the occasional lapse of concentration and stray over the 70 mark on motorways (the only places vans such as the Transit are legally allowed to drive at 70 mph anyway). This feature won't be to everyone's taste, but the fact is that you will use a lot more fuel thrashing your van at 80 or 90 than you will cruising at 70, so it's a wise option financially besides legally!
- Full wheel covers - anyone can buy a set of these and stick them on their Transit, but they are more aerodynamic than alloys or the other styles of Transit wheeltrims, so they create less drag and thus give you better fuel economy. Not the most revolutionary idea, but a worthy one nonetheless.
- Shift indicator light - again, this is standard on the current crop of Transits, but on the ECOnetic it's configured to illuminate at less revs, encouraging you to change up a gear earlier than you might otherwise do.
- Optional cDPF/Euro V Emissions Compliance - For an extra £750.00 you can specify that your Transit ECOnetic is Euro 5 emissions standards compliant by the addition of a "Coated Diesel Particulate Filter". The cDPF is - as its name might suggest - a filter which is located in a diesel engine exhaust. It removes particulates from the exhaust gasses, thus resulting in cleaner exhaust emissions reaching the atmosphere. Many vehicles are fitted with these just to attain Euro IV status, so expect to see them on almost every diesel vehicle in the future. One drawback to cDPFs is that they do need replacing every 100,000 miles or so and if the engine is left ticking-over for an extended period of time, the filter does not get warm enough to work to its optimum, leading it to clog and thus cause various errors in the engine management system. Vehicles fitted with cDPFs do need to be driven motorway speeds quite regularly or you will have problems with this. Consider yourselves warned by the VANorak!
For further information & advice take a look at the new Business Link Van Best Practice Website, which has numerous guides for van owners & drivers, covering matters such as fuel efficient driving, safe loading and how to choose the correct specification van for your business.
A new website has been launched where anyone can check the fuel economy & emissions data for all current & recent models of vans! It's run by the DfT (Department for Transport) and you can find it here: http://vanfueldata.dft.gov.uk/
If you're looking for some used Transit ECOnetic vans, take a look here
All photos used by kind permission of Maun Motors Van Sales. You can find stock of Ford ECOnetic vans at this link and here