Why do most trucks in the UK have diesel engines?

It’s rare to see any UK-spec truck that’s not a diesel. Petrol trucks aren’t even considered by haulage companies, and private truck owners avoid petrol engines as well. But why is this?

There are actually four key reasons as to why most trucks in the UK have diesel engines – and these reasons also apply to truck across the EU, especially in Germany and France. 

So let’s go through them:

1. You get more miles per gallon with a diesel truck

It’s a widely known fact that diesel engines deliver better fuel economy than petrol engines, and so it’s easy to see why most haulage companies in the UK opt for diesel, given that their drivers will often travel up and down the country racking up thousands of miles every week. 

And even though diesel engines have been proven to emit more NOx than petrol engines, they do emit less CO2 by and large. 

2. Diesel engines produce more torque

One of the biggest reasons as to why diesel engines are preferred to petrol engines in UK trucks is because they produce more torque. This is beneficial because trucks have to haul around a lot of weight – often in excess of 50 tonnes, and to some degree truck drivers find that diesel engines simply perform better than petrol engines. 

In fact, the only real-world alternative to a big diesel engine in a truck is the Scania V8 in terms of torque, but this engine doesn’t deliver on the miles per gallon front (even if it does sound incredibly nice).

3. Diesel engines have significant longevity and reliability advantages

Because they produce so much torque, truck diesel engines have bigger and more robust components than petrol engines, which is why it is not uncommon to see diesel truck engines with in excess of 500,000 kilometres on them or even 1,000,000 kilometres. 

We see this all of the time when we break trucks, and we have no problem selling engines with such high mileages because we know they’ll run just fine for years to come.

4. Diesel truck engine technology is improving all of the time

The latest range of diesel engines from truck manufacturers are amazing, and they are nothing short of a dream to drive – rivalling that of petrol. 

For instance, Volvo’s latest diesel engines – the D13K 420, 460, 500 and 540 and the D16K 500, 650 and 750 engines - are incredibly fuel efficient for the performance they offer. The D16K is particularly impressive, delivering up to 750bhp with a staggering 3,350nm (2,618 lb /ft) of torque while meeting the EU’s strict Euro 6 Emissions requirements and delivering excellent fuel economy.

  • Why do most trucks in the UK have diesel engines?