Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

How to 'Right Spec' Your Trucks and Vans

January 2010, by - Also by this author

We've all heard the word "downsize" a bit too much in the past year. Mostly, it's in reference to a friend or family member losing a job. But it's also relevant to our new environmental consciousness and using only as much as we need.

This holds true for fleets: In addition to reducing our carbon footprint, high gas prices have caused fleets to take a harder look at spec'ing trucks and vans for the job.

With the help of the lifecycle analysis experts at Vincentric, we have performed a hard-numbers analysis to aid in your vehicle spec. Vincentric has calculated lifecycle costs for common light-duty truck and van models in different weight classes.

We have included cargo, payload and towing capacities for each model. With a comparison to lifecycle costs, you can estimate how much you'll be outlaying - or saving - by moving into a different weight class or model.

Vincentric calculates nine factors in its lifecycle analysis: estimated cap cost, depreciation, fees and taxes, fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, financing and opportunity cost. Vincentric calculated total costs for each model after three years, as well as cents per mile. We have broken out total estimated fuel cost to highlight how downsizing can save in fuel expense.

We have made our best attempt at apples-to-apples comparisons, though capacities and lifecycle costs vary, even within weight classes.

Cost Savings for Downsizing

Almost all models in this analysis realize an overall cost savings when moving to a smaller weight class.

  • Downsizing from a 1-ton (350/3500) pickup to a ¾-ton (250/2500) pickup can save 1 cent (GM products) to 5 cents per mile (Dodge Ram)
  • Downsizing from a ¾-ton pickup to a ½-ton (150/1500) pickup can save 8 cents (Dodge Ram) to 14 cents per mile (GM and Ford)
  • Downsizing from a ½-ton pickup to a compact pickup can save 6 cents (Chevrolet) to 18 cents per mile (Nissan)
  • Downsizing from a 1-ton van to a ¾-ton van can save 6 cents (Ford and GMC) to 8 cents (Chevrolet)
  • Downsizing from a ¾-ton van to a ½-ton van can save 3 cents (Ford) to 6 cents (Chevrolet)
  • Downsizing from a ½-ton van to a smaller cargo vehicle (Express 1500 vs. HHR or E-150 vs. Transit Connect) saves 14 cents.

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John Lovato was one of the 46 founding members of NAFA, a member of The Round Table Group (a precursor to NAFA), and a former fleet manager with chemical manufacturing company American Cyanamid.

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