Vehicle weight

A vehicle’s weight is an important factor in how much fuel it will consume. The heavier the vehicle, the more energy it needs to get moving. Extra weight also increases a vehicle’s rolling resistance, which is a force that resists forward motion produced as the wheels roll over the road.

This means that reducing weight is a very effective way to lower a vehicle’s fuel consumption.

Light vehicles are getting lighter

Strict legislation and consumer demand are already making a difference. Automakers are making lighter-weight vehicles by using lighter materials such as aluminum and advanced composites. Automakers are also changing designs in ways that shed weight.

These improvements are leading to the use of smaller engines – without any sacrifice in performance, because less power is needed to move a lighter vehicle.

Room for more weight loss

A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study estimates that vehicles could be 35% lighter at a reasonable cost, and with no sacrifice to the safety or performance of vehicles. This could lower fuel consumption by another 12 to 20%.

The table provides estimated fuel cost savings for a range of weight reductions.
Weight reduction Fuel cost savings over 200,000 km*
Cars Trucks
10 kg $60 $80
25 kg $150 $200
50 kg $300 $400
100 kg $600 $800
200 kg $1,200 $1,600
400 kg $2,400 $3,200
1,000 kg $6,000   $8,000

*Estimated savings are based on a fuel price of $1.00/L and the average fuel consumption and weight relationship reported by MIT.

How to reap the savings and benefits

  • Research before you buy – Estimate how much fuel a vehicle will consume over its lifetime. The fuel consumption ratings search tool is a great resource to help you compare fuel consumption among vehicles and vehicle types.
  • Buy only what you need – When you shop for a new vehicle, look for the lightest vehicle with the smallest engine option to meet your needs.
  • Lighten your load – Don’t carry unneeded items in your trunk. That extra weight will increase your fuel consumption.