The greening of the white vans

Nov. 13, 2008
Field service is delivered to a dizzying array of business and consumer customers in light-duty vans that for decades varied little in terms of capacity and dimensions from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, today buyers seeking to run their white vans as as possible enjoy much wider choices to help them boost fuel efficiency and cut emissions not only in powertrain specs but also in the body

Field service is delivered to a dizzying array of business and consumer customers in light-duty vans that for decades varied little in terms of capacity and dimensions from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, today buyers seeking to run their “white vans” as “green” as possible enjoy much wider choices to help them boost fuel efficiency and cut emissions — not only in powertrain specs but also in the body type and size of the vehicle they select.

When it comes to greening vans, “less is more” comes to mind when considering body dimensions. Simply put, to be as green as possible, a fleet may consider running vans that come with a larger standard body or opt for a cutaway or cab-chassis solution to maximize capacity for tools and supplies. On the other hand, a fleet may select the smallest possible van capable of performing a given job so per-vehicle fuel efficiency can be maximized. Whether bigger or smaller is greener will depend on the application, but making this choice with standard bodies is possible thanks to the arrival on these shores of two “Eurovans,” the larger Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter and the smaller Ford Transit Connect.

Along with body type selected, the biggest green impact will come from the engine selected. Here, a straight diesel powerplant still reigns supreme by offering the highest fuel efficiency and thus the lowest emissions. But fleets that opt for gasoline/ethanol power can still seek to be as green as possible by ordering the smallest engine capable of meeting the vehicle's performance requirements.

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