Ecodriving Saves Fuel And The Environment

by Don Elliott on December 8, 2011

Ecodriving is a term that North American drivers will be seeing more of in the near future. Ecodriving originated in Europe as a push to get more mileage, fewer greenhouse gases, and safer driving. When drivers use ecodriving techniques, they can expect fuel savings from five to fifteen percent.

Ecodriving Techniques

Most ecodriving techniques are just plain common sense. For example, paying attention to the traffic flow allows the driver to use a technique called coasting. Rapid stops and jackrabbit starts are the biggest offenders when trying to save fuel.

Keeping a consistent speed while maintaining the lowest possible RPMs on the engine permits the most efficient use of the engine’s energy and maintains the lowest possible emissions output. In heavy traffic, big trucks use this technique to avoid the accordion starts and stops as they pull 80,000 pounds of freight.

Maintaining the correct tire pressure can make a huge difference in your cars “rolling resistance.” Adjust your tire pressure in the spring and in the fall as average daily temperatures change. Keeping your windows rolled up when driving at higher speeds will also help to maintain the aerodynamic efficiency of the cars design.

True ecodriving trained drivers will make sacrifices to drive most efficiently. Any extra energy consumed relates directly to fuel costs. Air conditioning, high-end sound systems, and other electrical equipment require energy generated by the engine to operate. Using less of any electrical equipment will save some amount of fuel.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, are experimenting to find how instantaneous feedback on driving efficiency will cause drivers to change their driving habits. Automakers have taken note and are offering feedback to drivers. The Ford Fusion Hybrid features an image of a plant that grows with the efficiency of the driver.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster’s “Blue Max” fuel-economy game scores the driver’s fuel efficiency. Using the car’s “Blue Link” wireless technology, the driver can share their score with other Veloster drivers in an online forum.

Fiat has created an application called Eco:Drive to help their car owners track their driving habits. Drivers plug the Fiat flash drive into a USB port on the car’s dashboard. Periodically, they remove the flash drive and plug it into the application installed on their home computer. Drivers can take an Eco:Challenge, setting up targets for driving efficiency and then tracking their score against their goals. Fiat owners can then become a member of Fiat’s Eco:Ville where they can compare their ecodriving scores with other Fiat owners.

The degree to which you are prepared to alter your driving habits will determine how much you can save by using ecodriving techniques. Commercial fleets are already training their drivers. Be prepared to hear more about ecodriving as car manufacturers and government agencies realize they can make their cars more fuel efficient with driving habits. Who knows, using ecodriving techniques may also help you maintain your used car value!

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