Only Fuels and Horse Power

An entire fleet of vehicles that run on diesel is typical for the haulage and delivery industry. Pretty much all vehicles larger than a car will use diesel because of its increased efficiency. Diesel engines can generate a much better mpg ratio than petrol engines, which is significant for heavy vehicles that cover hundreds of thousands of miles.

The typical view is that a more efficient engine is better for the environment, since less power is needed to propel the vehicle over a given distance. This was the reason the UK government initially encouraged the uptake of diesel cars about 25 years ago by reducing the duty at the pumps. A well-maintained diesel engine also runs for about twice as many miles as a petrol one.


There are, however, contradictory views about diesel’s impact on the environment. Diesel engines emit a lot more Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) than petrol engines, and European politicians are now blaming the proliferation of diesel cars for the reduction in urban air quality.

The fact is, all conventionally-fuelled vehicles generate emissions which are harmful to the environment. The more you use a car, the bigger your environmental impact or ‘carbon footprint’ will be. For the haulage and logistics industry, it is difficult to escape the inadvertent environmental damage.

Diesel Fuel Alternatives

There is change afoot though. Alternative fuels have long been mooted as the future, as the availability of crude oil begins to dwindle. Ethanol is made from fermented sugarcane or soybean. When used as transportation fuel, ethanol produces no sulphur dioxide or lead emissions, and it can be added to petrol to produce a greener hybrid fuel. In Brazil, about 50% of all vehicles are run using an ethanol-based fuel system.

Biodiesel is an eco-friendly alternative to conventional diesel. Renewable oils such as vegetable oil is converted and refined in order to make their combustion activity similar to standard diesel. However, the most significant leaps in terms of vehicle power is coming from electricity. Tesla Motors are now producing performance sports cars that are charged in a similar way we would charge a laptop computer or smartphone. Instead of an engine, there’s a sophisticated battery pack.

Who knows, the vans and lorries powering Britain’s supply chain in the future could be running on electricity.