As many of us know, the cost of fuel is a big component of travelling. Whether you're travelling solo, travelling with a camper trailer or travelling with a caravan, you've got to buy fuel, no matter where you're going. Together with 4x4 Australia and Caravan World, Camper Trailer Australia recently planned and executed a fuel consumption test with contributor Glen Torrens behind the wheel.
We designed a circuit of 130 kilometres, which enabled us to test the vehicles under different driving conditions. The loop started at a service station where we could fill up with diesel, petrol and LPG. We wanted to test each fuel type with nothing on the tail, one with a camper trailer and one with a caravan.
The team used a Cub camper trailer, which weighed around 900 kilograms, and an On The Move Storm caravan, which weighed just under two tonnes. These were both within the towing limits for the two tow vehicles we selected, which were both Toyota HiLux. One of the reasons we chose to use the Toyota Hilux is that it is one of the few dual cab utes that is available with a petrol engine, most are diesel these days. It's also a very popular tow vehicle across Australia.
Our test took place in a real world scenario, so we had to deal with traffic and the weather and other issues. We also wanted to have one driver for this test, so that task fell to Glen who did nine laps of the loop over three days, covering around 13 hundred kilometres. In order to make it fair we shook the vehicles at the service station to ensure that the tanks were full to the same level before the tests.
Unsurprisingly diesel was the most economic fuel used on the test. But what we haven’t analysed — but will mention — is the increased servicing costs for diesel vehicles compared with petrol and dual-fuel vehicles. This varies by brand and model but, in general, diesels need more frequent servicing, with a higher labour cost and more expensive oil, and more of it. This eats away at any day-to-day savings made via greater fuel economy.
Similarly, there is the extra cost of an LPG conversion: around $4000 for the clever dual-fuel EFI system as used here. For the past six years, the Australian government has offered a rebate for LPG conversions as it is a demonstrably cleaner fuel than petrol and (especially) diesel. Unfortunately, this rebate comes to a conclusion mid-2014 and with the raising of tax/excise on LPG, this fuel is having its decades of outstanding appeal for cost-conscious (and more environmentally-friendly) motoring eroded by fiscal policy. However, do the sums and a dual-fuel conversion on an older petrol-powered ute or wagon can create a terrific tow-tug or tourer without breaking the bank.
Check out the full fuel duel in issue #78 of Camper Trailer Australia, out now. Why not subscribe today for all the latest camper news, reviews and travel inspiration.
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Video: Stephen Dwight