7 elements that impact your cargo cost

7 elements that impact your cargo cost

You expect your cargo cost per kilometer to be the same for any destination? Think again!

Cargo costs include far more than the sole number of kilometers. Even the charge for import from or export to one place differs – even though the distance is obviously the same. Why? Because a transportation price is built up by several components:

Personnel costs

To start with, motivated drivers taking care of your cargo are paid by the hour. Based on a calculation covering the distance and presumed time spent, a fixed price is determined so you are not charged with hours wasted in traffic jams etc. On top of that come fixed administrative costs, to cover flawless treatment of your queries, from fast responses and offers, careful handling of your cargo to correct invoicing by dispatchers, HR department, accountancy…

Road network

When driving from country to country, apart from language and culture, also the road infrastructure changes. Many countries have a very good expanded road network; some just don’t. In Belgium, a highway is the most common element in the road network to use for longer distances. But some countries simply don’t have as many highways or are still building new ones and trucks therefore need to use secondary roads. Even though that is not a big problem, the driver will need more time for the same number of kilometers.

Fuel and general wear costs

Depending on the condition of the road network, sometimes more fuel is needed, especially when using secondary roads. Moreover, filling up the tank in country A can be surprisingly more expensive than filling it in country B. And even though drivers pay specific attention where to refuel, we’re not talking about a difference of just €10…

Transport companies continuously update their fleet, to meet to the latest emission norms. And all these trucks and trailers need to be insured as well.

Also the general wear costs on tires, breaks and the truck in general are determined by the condition and type of road network used.


Road taxes are a very useful tool to finance the expansion of the road network. Every country charges differently – and even within countries, such as Belgium, sometimes differences exist between federal states.

Besides, expanding and optimizing the road network either mean delays or detours, both of which take more time, but neither of which will change your fixed price!

Return Cargo

Sending out a truck to deliver goods is good. Getting it back filled with other goods is even better! Obviously, overall costs are lower when the truck carries cargo both to and from the destination.

But often finding return cargo is a challenge: some regions just don’t have much return cargo to load. So trucks either drive back empty or drive a detour to a more frequented loading point to collect. This, again, brings on higher fuel consumption, increased general wear and more hours on the road.

Full load or part load

Whether all the space in the truck is used for one load, or just a part of it, also makes a difference. The cost of a full load is – in percentage terms – lower than that of a part load. A drive to one single destination is more cost efficient as having to deposit cargo at several destinations. It’s quite simple: every extra loading or unloading place entails an extra cost.

Express delivery

When in need of express delivery, costs don’t necessarily have to be higher. Yet, they often are. Depending on the urgency, for example, more than one driver might be deployed to enable an uninterrupted ride to the destination. This evidently translates into elevated costs. Or, an emergency truck may be specially claimed from abroad to enable the transport – also requiring extra effort.

Read more about last minute shipments in our blog: “3 solutions to get your goods faster at destination”


Comparing prices per kilometer is impossible. The transportation cost largely depends on when and where you need your cargo shipped, the current situation of the road network and fuel prices. Still, if you have questions on the quote you received, or you would like an offer: contact us at sales@vedrova.be, we will be glad to assist you!

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