Continued economic pressure, stricter emission regulations, unpredictable fuel prices and growing competition continue to challenge the global commercial transportation industry.
Against this backdrop, it’s no surprise that fleet operators are looking at ways to save money and control overheads as they plan ahead – it simply makes good business sense.
But, the forward thinking operator will also be looking for every opportunity to grow.
As difficult as this current climate may seem, growth projections in the global commercial vehicle industry are actually fairly strong – some reports suggest the industry will grow at around 4 percent and reach around $7 billion by 2025. And by re-investing savings into other areas of the business, such as marketing, driver training, innovation and technology, operators can position themselves well for profitable growth over the long-term.
So, how can operators reduce some of their operating costs to provide them with more financial flexibility?
One of the most important opportunities is reducing fuel costs. The reality is that while fuel prices fluctuate, they’re always going to be an unpredictable driver of operating costs. This often makes it difficult for operators to conduct long-term planning. Even fuel cards and bunkering, which add a degree of stability for operators, do not completely eliminate the uncertainty.
The key to reducing fuel costs is through increasing vehicle efficiency, and lubricant selection can play a significant part.
Lubricants are often considered a necessary purchase to help protect commercial vehicle equipment. That’s why some operators look for the cheapest oil that can deliver the basic protection their equipment requires.
However, while equipment protection is paramount, operators should also consider lubricants as an opportunity to achieve other critical performance criteria, such as improving fuel efficiency.
In fact, while steps like investing in driver training and monitoring fleet performance through telematics can help reduce fuel consumption across a fleet, choosing the right lubricant can have a more meaningful impact than some operators may think.
Using high quality, fully synthetic low viscosity lubricants can help operators significantly enhance fuel economy potential compared to many conventional products without sacrificing on performance or engine protection.
Lower viscosity oils can help enhance fuel economy because they flow more easily through the engine, requiring less energy to be pumped.
For example, consider a 5W-30 oil, which can typically offer good fuel economy potential. The first number – 5W – indicates the oil viscosity in low temperature conditions, and the second number – 30 – indicates the viscosity at normal operating temperature. This oil is able to maintain lower viscosities at equivalent temperatures than say, a 15W-40 oil, thus providing more fuel efficiency potential.
However, as mentioned, maintaining engine protection when switching to lower viscosity heavy-duty engine oils is crucial. This is why the selection of a fully synthetic oil is so important. Mineral-based engine oils, cannot offer the same amount of protection as their synthetic equivalents, making them a sound investment as fuel economy gains are made.
Breakthroughs in engine oil formulations are pushing fuel economy and engine protection ever further, even sometimes among lubricants that are in the same class. For example, tests carried out by the Millbrook Group, a globally recognized independent vehicle test and validation services provider, have shown that the newly introduced Mobil Delvac 1 ESP 5W-30 synthetic heavy duty diesel engine oil can help improve fuel economy potential by 2.6 percent when compared against conventional mineral-based oils.* Over the course of a year, that could translate to thousands of dollars in savings per vehicle each year.
Most importantly, extensive on-road testing showed that the same Mobil Delvac 1 oil delivered outstanding wear protection for oil drain intervals of up to 160,000 kilometres.**
It’s clear that lubricants can help play a meaningful role in delivering fuel efficiency benefits while still maintaining the protection engines need. In turn, this can become a major growth opportunity, helping operators gain significant savings they can re-invest into other areas of their business.
In short, investing in high performance synthetic lubricants should be seen as an opportunity to help put operators on the right path to growth.
Learn more about improving diesel fuel economy potential by clicking here.
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* A fuel economy evaluation was conducted using two Volvo FH500 6×2 Euro 6 trucks, loaded to 60 per cent vehicle payload (circa 32,000 kg). Testing was conducted on track at the Millbrook Proving Ground, Ltd. in the United Kingdom. Statistically significant fuel economy benefits were observed in the Volvo trucks, when comparing Mobil Delvac 1 LE 5W-30 to a mineral 15W-40 engine oil, with an average fuel economy gain of 2.6 per cent for city driving conditions. Corrections were applied when changes in test environment had a statistically significant impact on fuel economy. Fuel economy improvements are dependent on vehicle/equipment type, outside temperature, driving conditions and your current fluid viscosities.
** Results may vary based on vehicle/engine condition, driving and environmental conditions. Consult OEM or ExxonMobil before implementing extended ODIs. Testing conducted using Cummins ISX, Detroit Diesel DD15, Paccar MX-13 and Mack MP-8 engines.