Playing With the Numbers

Keeping a log of all my runs in the two trucking projects gives an opportunity to compare the efficiency of the two trucks that we ran in parallel.    This is not a straight forward task for a number of reasons which I will discuss.  The conclusion I reach will of necessity be clouded by a number of intangibles.   But let’s start with the trucks themselves for they are in some ways chalk and cheese.

Our Volvo FH has a 4×2 chassis while the Kenworth K100 is a 6×4 – both are seen as standard configurations for tractor units in their home European and US truck markets.   A 6×4 chassis is commonly believed to have a small negative effect on fuel efficiency.   The K100 is also quite angular in appearance whilst the Volvo FH is more aerodynamic.

The engines are closely matched power wise at 450HP for Detroit Diesel in the K100 and 460HP for the Volvo D13K and their swept volumes are quite close – 12.1 and 12.9 litres respectively.   But there the big differences kick in.  The Detroit offering is a V8 two-stroke while the D13K is a 6 cylinder in-line four-stroke engine.   The Detroit engine dates to 1974 and was a very widely used in trucks and buses throughout the 1980’s in the US.   Production ceased in 1995.  The D13K entered production in 2012 and is to the latest Euro 6 specification which is aimed at reducing emissions.  One would think that reducing emissions ought to have a positive effect on fuel consumption but whether that is actually the case is a matter for debate in other forums than my blog.

Having set the scene, let’s move to the numbers for the trucks…

Volvo FH                              19 trips                 14.74 tonnes      29.63 l/100km    7.94 mpg

Kenworth K100                  10 trips                 13 tonnes            30.43 l/100km    7.73 mpg

…which seem to bear out the assumption that the modern truck with the latest engine should be more fuel efficient.   It doesn’t appear to be by a lot though – 0.21 of a gallon per mile.   But that’s with a 1.74t weight penalty.   I looked at ways to even out the weights to get a clearer impression of the difference.   If I take the runs done by our Kenny for the Doubles Event where the tonnages were all in the high teens and select similar weights from our European deliveries we get a clearer picture…

Volvo FH                              9 trips                    17.67 tonnes      31.18 l/100km    7.54 mpg

Kenworth K100                 10 trips                   17.5 tonnes        35.05 l/100km    6.71 mpg

…with the K100 clearly burning significantly more fuel than the Volvo.   It equates to 16.4 gallons difference every 1000 miles – that’s around a $52 saving for the modern truck compared with the old stager using the October 2017 cost of diesel in California.   Small margins on a single truck become massive savings on a big fleet!

This is not a rolling road test where all factors are the same.   I suspect that the real world margin is even higher but the only way I could test that would be to put the two trucks into the same environment and haul the exact same loads with them.   Even then the results could be skewed by the traffic on any given run.   The general driving in Euro Truck is much more varied than in ATS.   Most of the driving with the Kenworth has involved long stretches on the interstate with cruise control on at around 55mph.   In France you either have back roads with lots of roundabouts or autoroutes with regular stops at tolls to break up the cruising.   In Germany you have no tolls but lower speed limits on the autobahnen and back roads.   There are similar road challenge issues throughout Europe.

An interesting illustration of the point is the run from Linköping to Oslo which was one of the runs included in both sets of figures but critically it was included in the second set of figures to even out the weights hauled and could be viewed as having an impact on the FH’s overall results.   This was the lowest weight at 15t but because of the nature of the roads and some of the gradients encountered along with slow moving traffic it was actually the Volvo’s worst for fuel consumption in the subset at 6.82 mpg.   The only similar road encountered by the K100 in our sequence of tests was the run from Redding to Eureka with 17t where the fuel consumption was 5.86 mpg.

The overall conclusion is that the ETS2 / ATS games do provide a good representation of the real world fuel consumption by the trucks (assuming you’ve turned on realistic fuel consumption in the game settings!).   I would expect the modern truck engine to be more fuel efficient than a 40 year old design.   The amount of difference is partially obscured by the differences in the ETS2 / ATS road environments.   What is not taken into account is the relative maintenance costs and for a real world self-employed trucker these might swing the balance when choosing to stick with a less complicated older engine.   You can find lots of videos on YouTube exploring this.

One final real world difference between the US and Europe that I want to mention.   In Europe you buy a Volvo, you get a Volvo engine.   A Mercedes-Benz – you get one of their engines.   In the US it seems that whilst certain trucks are allied to certain engines – Freightliner with Detroit Diesel and Kenworth with PACCAR  – a buyer can order what is known as a ‘glider kit’ if they want which is the truck without an engine or drive train.   They can then specify whatever make of engine / drive train they want.   So you find Kenworth trucks with Cummins or Caterpillar engines in place of the PACCAR units that would be the factory standard – or in our case a Series 92 Dee-Dee.   It’s a different market!

This was an interesting mathematical experiment for me.  I wanted to see whether the modern truck is more fuel efficient and I think that has been borne out by the figures.   It’s been a good way of keeping the grey matter active which is a healthy thing to do.   I’ve also done a lot of research into the real trucking world over the months of playing ETS2 and ATS.   These truck sim’s may be ‘only a game’ but the opportunities for straining the brain are there if you want to take them 🙂

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Overtaken by Events

I could have called this post bookended by Events but overtaken sounds better and fits with what has happened to my attempts to keep the Build a Trucking Company and the Lone Star Project in sync to the point of buying a second truck.

To set the scene. At the end of August SCS announced that they would be running regular Events with rewards on Steam and Icons in World of Trucks. I mentioned the first of these, ‘Trade Connections – France’, in my ‘WOT Decision Time?’ and ‘Where are the Kenworths?’ posts. The goal was to complete a delivery of any cargo to or from France with at least 10 other countries in Europe on World of Trucks Jobs. Quite a challenge since some of the driving would be over long distances and involving a minimum of 14 trips assuming you started from a country outside France and took advantage of the proximity of Luxembourg and Metz. You could do it in 10 runs by relocating back to a garage in France after each run but I would view that as cheating ;-). I completed it in 6 days using my main account where I was driving my MAN TGA with Megan as company. We transported cargoes to or from France with the following countries: –

(1) Austria, (2) Belgium, (3) Slovakia, (4) Luxembourg, (5) Sweden, (6) Norway,
(7) Germany, (8) Switzerland, (9) Denmark, (10) The Netherlands

Here are some images from my trips…

Passing Melk Abbey, Austria

Bytča Bridge, Slovakia

Waiting for a gap in the traffic, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Crossing into Belgium on the last run back to Lille.

Then immediately after buying the second garage in Bordeaux and upgrading the Flagstaff garage, SCS announced a new World of Trucks challenge set in the US. This one was to utilise the Double Trailers recently introduced to the game. The only issue with that is that there aren’t many different liveries so there was potential for any screenshots to be ‘boring’. The rules were simple – Transport a total of 300.000 lb of cargo using only Double Trailers. Do so with jobs connected to World of Trucks, while playing American Truck Simulator, of course. For every delivery, the destination city must be different. Only deliveries with planned trip distance over 100 miles are eligible. I just decided to take part using my Lone Star Project account so our Kenworth K100 was pressed into service. If she looks slightly different to the last shot you saw of her, I treated her to a chrome sun visor and bumper at €2k to celebrate upgrading the garage 🙂 Here we go…

Heading for Bear on I one-oh… I5-I10 intersection.

Leaving Bushnells Farm, Holbrook.

On the Redwood Highway, near Ukiah.

Now the issue with completing this event in my Lone Star Project profile is that I already have more than enough money for the second truck and I have bought one. But you’re going to have to wait to see what I’ve bought because the Build a Company Project has to play catch-up 😉

Garage Dilema

In both our projects it is time to make a decision about garages and employing staff. At this point there is a dilemma for the company operator – ie You! Do you upgrade your existing headquarters or do you buy a second garage elsewhere? To my mind there are two ways of looking at this and I’ll explain my thinking along with the thoughts from the Trucker community.

Upgrading your garage will cost 180K in Euros or Dollars – you do it by clicking on the upgrade button hiding in the image of the garage on the top left of the screen. What this will do is unlock two more garage slots allowing you to have another two vehicles based there. So where’s the dilemma? Well, if you choose instead to buy a new garage elsewhere instead of upgrading your existing one you get three slots at the new garage which still only costs you 180K. So you either have a total of three or four garage slots depending on which option you take. Many members of the community feel that getting that extra slot for the same money is always the way you should go. I think it depends on how realistic you are trying to play the game. Companies usually expand in their home area first before buying additional premises elsewhere, not least because of the logistical and communication complexities that multi-location operations introduce. So, in my own profiles I’ve always gone for the upgrade option and that is what we’re going to do in our Lone Star Project over at Flagstaff. But first we’ve got to drive there.

After the last job I parked up in a motel near Bakersfield rail depot for a good night’s sleep. In the morning I found a load of Construction Offices going to Flagstaff but to collect them I had to run light into Bakersfield itself. Then we were off along Route 58 passing a large trailer park along the way…
Now I’ve been slightly misleading you largely because I want to keep the two games in sync for this stage of our play-through journey. You actually don’t need to drive to your garage to upgrade it. You can access the details screen for any garage you own at any time and upgrade it. The drive to Flagstaff is only to mirror a drive that we are going to do in France. And the reason we need to do a drive in France is that I am going to follow the community logic in our Build a Company project and buy a second garage elsewhere. And, to buy a garage you have to visit its location 🙂

Our headquarters garage is in Lyon so I think we need a new garage in a different area of France. Lille or Reims might be a good choice being close to the northern border. However, I really fancy one of the cities along the Atlantic coast. In my main profile I have a garage in Nantes and it is one of my favourites for visiting (when available loads and time permit). Alternatives I considered back then were La Rochelle and Bordeaux. This time I think we’ll go with Bordeaux. So – decision taken I picked up a load of Schweppes beverages and off we went…
…picking up the A89 on the outskirts of Clermont Ferrand. You can read a lot of fascinating information about the A89 here and see images of its service stations and structures – some of which are reproduced in game. I will try to share them with you over time but not on this run because it’s late afternoon and it will be night by the time we reach Bordeaux.

And here we are pulling in to Geodis…

I like sprawling nature of Bordeaux as depicted in ETS2. There are several industries offering a variety of cargoes. It also adds a degree of urgency to things when you arrive with very little ‘driving’ time left and you’re nowhere near a rest point. The map below illustrates the point. The blue triangle near the bottom is our truck at the Geodis depot and the red line is the route I need to take to get to the garage that I want to buy……and I’m going to have to be quick because I’m almost out of hours and I could soon start incurring Sleep Avoidance fines! Fortunately, the traffic was light in the middle of the night and I made it before the Gendarmerie started fining me 🙂 And this is our new three slot garage in Bordeaux…

Our next task in both projects is to earn the money to buy our next truck and in France we’ll then be looking to hire our first employee. I was intending to keep both games in line until we could buy those vehicles but… well I’ll tell you about that in the next post 🙂