Pickup trucks may pale in comparison to small cars, especially hybrid cars, when it comes to fuel efficiency, but because of its power and large capacity they still continue to be among the best selling vehicles in the United States. In fact, a pickup truck, the Ford F-150, topped the list of 10 best-selling cars (and trucks) just last June.
Ford F-150 XLT Photo via Chris Short
Before you get dismayed over the carbon footprint of pickup trucks, let’s put things in perspective and compare the carbon footprint of different light vehicles. As per 2007 figures published by the Vehicle Technologies Office of the US Department of Energy, pickup trucks have carbon footprints that are really close to that of vans and SUVs. So if you’re thinking of passing up pickup trucks in favor of other vehicle types, you’d better think twice because, unless you’re getting a car, the other benefits of using a pickup truck might end up negating the very small difference between published carbon footprints. Of course, finding the greener option will still depend on the particular model more than the vehicle type.
In case you do have a need for a pickup truck, be it for hauling around stuff for your business or the frequent need to go off-road, there are some things you can do to minimize your truck’s carbon footprint.
1. Choose a fuel efficient model – This list of eco-friendly haulers should help you narrow down your choices right away. And fear not about having only rather corny trucks to choose from because the list includes the two F-150 models and the increasingly popular RAM 1500.
2. Keep your truck well-maintained – True for ANY kind of vehicle, auto maintenance is key to keeping your carbon footprint down. Always check to insure that your truck’s in good condition, from the engine down to brake rotors and your tires, because each time you neglect to change your engine oil when it’s due and every single time your truck’s wheels are under inflated or over inflated is another instance of you increasing its carbon footprint unnecessarily. So give your pickup truck the attention it deserves and the environment will thank you for it.
3. Drive efficiently – The more you keep on accelerating and decelerating, the more gas you consume. So pick your cruising speed and stop driving and swerving around. And yes, it also pays to pick your routes not only to use the shortest one, but also the ones with less traffic congestion.
4. Load up the smart way – The less number of trips you take, the more you save on fuel. So load as much as you can on your pickup truck. However, don’t go overboard by overloading your truck. You should also make sure that everything you load up in the back is secure by using proper equipment, be it tonneau covers or tie downs. This way you can haul as much or as little cargo as you need safely and efficiently.