Managing a fleet involves a great number of decisions on a daily basis. But one of the most important is choosing the right vehicles for your fleet. The type of vehicles you run will affect almost every other aspect of fleet management, so you want to be sure you get this right.
There are several classifications of commercial fleet vehicles defined by the EPA. These include:
- LDV – Light Duty Vehicle
- MDPV – Medium Duty Passenger Vehicle
- LDT – Light Duty Truck
- HDV / HDE – Heavy Duty Vehicle / Heavy Duty Engine
- LLDT – Light Light Duty Truck
- HLDT – Heavy Light Duty Truck
- LHDDE – Light Heavy Duty Diesel Engine
- MHDDE – Medium Heavy Duty Diesel Engine
- HHDDE – Heavy Heavy Duty Diesel Engine
While each of these vehicle types could be appropriate for certain fleet uses, today we’re going to discuss light duty vehicles and light duty trucks specifically.
What Is a Light Duty Vehicle?
The EPA lists their light duty vehicle definition as “Passenger cars and light trucks: minivans, passenger vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles”. More specifically, a light duty vehicle must have a gross vehicle weight rating of under 8,500 lbs.
Light duty vehicles are commonly used in some types of commercial fleets. Fleets that transport people more often than goods or equipment may primarily employ passenger cars, SUVs, and the like. For many small business fleets, pick-up trucks are an ideal choice. For others, commercial passenger vans fit the bill. But what makes these vehicles appropriate for the fleets that use them? What are the benefits of light duty commercial fleet vehicles?
Benefits of Light-Duty Vehicles
One of the top benefits of light duty vehicles is lower fuel consumption. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average fuel efficiency of US light duty vehicles was 22.3 miles per gallon in 2017. Considering the rise in electric vehicles and other fuel-efficient options, this number will likely continue to climb. By comparison, most heavy duty vehicles are unable to make it past the 10 mpg mark. This means that fleets running light duty vehicles can typically spend far less on fuel, and they have less exposure when fuel prices rise.
Next, light duty vehicles tend to be more comfortable for drivers and passengers alike. This means if you’re routinely driving clients around or your business involves passengers, you’ll most likely want to stick to passenger cars or vans.
Light duty vehicles also often face fewer regulatory requirements. They don’t have to stop for weigh stations, typically don’t require commercial driver's licenses to operate, and don’t require DOT numbers, among other regulatory concerns. With fewer applicable regulations, light duty vehicles may make it easier to maintain your fleet’s compliance.
Of course, the top consideration when sourcing fleet vehicles should be whether they can adequately perform the job needed. If you’re hauling pallets of consumer goods, for example, you’re most likely not going to be able to do so with light duty commercial vehicles. So no matter how attractive the fuel savings and other benefits can be, if the vehicle can’t haul the needed cargo, it’s not going to work for your fleet.
Next, fuel emissions for light duty vehicles are more closely monitored than their larger, heavier counterparts. The EPA light duty vehicle rule was enacted to monitor and reduce the emissions of passenger vehicles and light duty trucks. For most fleets, this is an added advantage, since lower emissions means a cleaner environment and savings in fuel costs as discussed above.
In some instances, a mixed fleet is best. Light duty vehicles can be employed for smaller jobs, while medium or even heavy duty vehicles can handle bigger loads. This offers the best of both worlds, allowing the fleet to adapt to each job or project on the fly.
In the end, determining which type of vehicle is best for your fleet is complicated. Each vehicle type has its own benefits and drawbacks, and different types of vehicles are best suited for different tasks. It’s important to thoroughly research and weigh all the pros and cons of the vehicles you’re considering purchasing for your fleet.
To learn about fleet management, check out the fleet management software offerings at Azuga. With Azuga Fleet™, your drivers will see a boost in productivity, improved safety, and money saved.