Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Sirius Traffic Helps Motorists Avoid Traffic Congestion

Slowly we are moving to generally-available real-time ITS solutions that will help drivers navigate around traffic congestion, find fuel at the lowest cost along the route, and provide real-time feedback to drivers about how their driving style is effecting their fuel economy and safety.

SiriusXM constellation of satellites transmits much more than music, news, and Howard Stern – with the right equipment you can receive real-time traffic information for your area beamed directly to your car.

Source: Sirius Traffic FAQ

Real-time traffic flow — Real-time traffic speed on each road segment is averaged over a five minute period and is shown on the navigation map, usually as color-coded roadways… Real-time traffic incidents — This includes updated traffic information on accidents, road construction, road closings and other traffic-related incidents… Since the Sirius Traffic service is integrated with a vehicle’s navigation systems, SIRIUS Traffic can help drivers pick the fastest route. Navigation systems can also reroute based on the updated real-time traffic.

Currently available mostly on high-end OEM platforms (there are a few aftermarket receivers that can read the signals and integrate with your on-board navigation system) to warn you when your route becomes congested, is under construction, or has other incidents – provide you a chance to re-route avoid delays.

Recently it was announced that much of the 2010 class of Mercedes Benz vehicles will come with an OEM version of the Sirius Traffic service pre-installed with a 6-month trial activated.

Source: Sirius Buzz

The news came in today that Sirius Traffic is available on all 2010 Mercedes Benz vehicles equipped with navigation and Sirius satellite radio. It is expected to be installed in 70% of the Mercedes Benz 2010 lineup and will be standard on the S-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class and G-Class models.

Sirius Traffic comes pre-activated with a six month trial subscription for the higher then typical converting customers along with a six-month trial subscription of the “SIRIUS Everything” package.

For those of you who don’t know Sirius Traffic provides traffic speed and flow information to vehicles over Sirius’ network. It also provides information on traffic incidents, scheduled road closings and road construction. Since the Traffic feature is integrated with the vehicle’s navigation system, the service assists drivers in picking the quickest, safest routes based on real-time traffic conditions.

Lern more about Sirius Traffic here and read the Sirius Traffic FAQ here.



FuelClinic data included in Copenhagen case study

A few weeks ago I was asked by EcoDrivingUSA to create a graphic describing some aggregate efficiency improvement data from the information collected here at FuelClinic. The intent was to demonstrate the efficacy of eco-driving techniques for improving fuel efficiency and decreasing GHG emissions.

I spent a few hours pouring through the database, to find the best data set to describe our users maintaining fuel receipt records, making sure not to skew the numbers, but selecting a sub-set of our most active members who do not have data entry problems (automatically flagged as “suspect” by FuelClinic – a whole topic unto itself).

Then I created the following graphic, with this description:

fuelclinic-average-no-training

This information made it into an “EcoDriving Impact Study for Copenhagen” presented by Driving Sustainability earlier this month. What’s most impressive is that the average improvement in fuel efficiency is 5.23% without any real form of ecodriving training – a point not lost on the authors of the study:

According to FuelClinic.com, the average EcoDriver improves their efficiency by 5.3%. These are drivers who have had no formal instruction on green driving…

If everyone in the US improved their efficiency by a basic EcoDriving level of 5%, this would result in a 66,346,545 ton reduction in CO2 emissions in the US.

The most active FuelClinic account users are benefiting from following simple online tips and believing that they can improve their fuel efficiency. The effort it takes to create an account, collect multiple receipts, and enter that information into the application is not trivial, and it indicates that a percentage of motorists are interested in understanding their fuel efficiency – and just the act of being “involved” and improving their understanding is all it take to turn an average motorist into a basic EcoDriver.

As an aside – my personal goal for FuelClinic is to increase this average efficiency improvement to 10% by the end of 2010.

You can download the case study (.pdf) here.



Firms Can Save By Going Green

Source: Chicago Sun Times

“There’s no question that if you improve driver behavior, specifically improve driver efficiency, you’ll create less emissions because you burn less gas,” said Samsel, program director.

Some corporations adopt green fleet programs to be more environmentally friendly, while others just want to save money. Whatever the motive, the result is the same — a gallon of gas not burned means 19.5 pounds of carbon dioxide that doesn’t go into the air.

“Ultimately, what we seek to do is reduce greenhouse emissions,” said Jason Mathers, project manager with the Environmental Defense Fund. He said EDF wants corporate fleet managers to focus on emissions, and aim at the “low-hanging” fruit that can easily lower fuel consumption, like driving habits and vehicle size and type.



Eco-driving Cuts Emissions and Costs at Aitik Mine in Sweden

November 4, 2009 · Filed Under Commercial Fleets, Driver Performance, Eco-Driving · 1 Comment 

The Aitik mine in Sweden, which is owned by Boliden Mineral AB, has organized an Eco-driving training course for all its truck drivers, in co-operation with the Swedish Road Administration. Eco-driving teaches the driver to drive efficiently, reducing fuel consumption and thereby emissions of carbon dioxide and other substances.

The Eco-driving concept originated in Finland and was initially introduced for private cars, and then for buses and trucks. The method has now been adapted for industrial machines and heavy vehicles. Aitik hopes to be able to reduce diesel consumption by at least 5 per cent and thereby reduce carbon dioxide emission by 1,900 tonnes.



FuelClinic.com takes 2nd Place at the Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) Congestion Challenge

A few days ago the results of the global Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) Congestion Challenge were announced at the VenCorps blog (registration required), and we were pleased to learn that FuelClinic.com had won 2nd place from a starting field of over 90 competitors:

The winners of the ITS Congestion Challenge were announced today in front of global transportation leaders at the ITS World Congress in Stockholm, Sweden. iCarpool won first place for $50,000 and 50,000 points, FuelClinic.com took second place for 25,000 points and iCone secured third place for 10,000 points.

These three companies will join the VenCorps portfolio, called the Launchpad. They will be able to use their points to grow by incentivizing our community to help them solve business problems big and small.

Judging from the results released at VenCorps, our little community turned out in force to compete against some very well established competition. Taking a look at the graph published at the VenCorps blog, you can see that iCarpool was simply unbeatable in this competition, able to motivate a virtual tsunami of voters for their cause.

total-scores

Rachel and I would like to send a heart-felt “Thank You!” to each of you who took the time to lend your support for FuelClinic, and who believe in our efforts to improve our roads and highways through advanced driver education.

A 1st place finish included a $50K seed-funding award, unfortunately there was no such award for 2nd place in this contest. We continue to seek seed-funding to turn our prototype system into a commercial application. We continue to work to meet our shared goals of helping people save money, reduce our oil dependence, cut pollution, and create safer and more intelligent drivers.

The month long contest was held in August 2009, and was sposored by The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM , Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners.



Fuelishness! Feed: Lessons in Fuel-Efficient Driving; Txting and driving film; New battery could change the world; Ethanol faces challenges ahead

  • Lessons in Fuel-Efficient Driving — One of the interesting features of our Prius is that it keeps a running tab on your current gas mileage. You can see both the mileage at any given moment or the average over your trip. Having such easy access to this information while you’re driving subtly teaches you how to drive more efficiently. Here are a few things we’ve learned.
      
  • This film that will stop you txting and driving — Gwent police is proud to have helped Brynmawr filmmaker Peter Watkins- Hughes in the production, which stars local drama students Jenny Davies as Cassie, and Amy Ingram and Laura Quantick as her friends, Emm and Jules. The film is a sequel to a previous documentary called ‘Lucky Luke’, made 14 years ago, which showed the devastating consequences of joy riding. It is hoped the film will become part of the core schools programme across Wales and ultimately the UK.
       
  • New battery could change world, one house at a time — It promises to nudge the world to a paradigm shift as big as the switch from centralized mainframe computers in the 1980s to personal laptops. But this time the mainframe is America’s antiquated electrical grid; and the switch is to personal power stations in millions of individual homes.
      
  • Ethanol faces challenges ahead — New technologies, supporting infrastructures, and greater demand will be needed to meet the country’s ambitious mandate to increase biofuel use. 


Due Diligence Call Marks Completion of Requirements for ITSA Congestion Challenge

Today Rachel and I had our due diligence call with Vencorp and ITSA Congestion Challenge experts. This event wraps up the final phase of requirements for the month-long process to build our strongest business case why FuelClinic should win the $50,ooo and the opportunity to be on stage in front of the “prime movers” in international transportation planning at the upcoming ITS World Congress in Sweden.

vencorp-dd-call

Click each tab in our profile to see our Executive Summary, Comments, 20 Questions, Team Profiles, Slide Presentation, and Expert Opinions at Vencorps.

 

Over the next few days we expect to see the experts add their opinions to the FuelClinic portfolio in that contest. Their opinions will round out the materials available there – which include our our pitch, the executive summary, 20 questions and answers, our team member profiles, our presentation slide show, along with comments from other facilitators in the Vencorp family.

This comprehensive collection of materials is our final submitted package for the funding contest, and paints the most complete picture FuelClinic ever available. If you are at all interested in learning more about this site, our business plan, or our vision – this is the one place to look for all the current details – many unavailable anywhere else.  

While you are there, please help support us and give us the final boost we need to spark this smoldering success into the very next blazing success story – details about how you can join and apply points to FuelClinic are on this page. We’re up against 8 other strong solutions, and really need your support.

This challenge wraps up on August 31st, winners will be notified shortly after, with the big public announcement in Stockholm, Sweden at the ITS World Congress later in September.



Driver Efficiency Improvement Cycle

I’ve been working for several days now on a presentation needed for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America Challenge via Vencorps – where FuelClinic is a finalist among other interesting ideas for a $50K grant and a chance to present at the ITS World Congress  in Stockholm Sweden.

The month-long process that the Challenge facilitators at Vencorps have created has forced me to document and express the variety of FuelClinic-related ideas and concepts that have been accumulating in my mind over the last year or so, in order to clearly represent this business to the community there who will vote to support FuelClinic or not.

Late last night I had a minor break-thru illustrating the core concepts of the FuelClinic “Eco-System” product into one simple and familiar flow chart, and dubbed it the Driver Efficiency Improvement Cycle

 FuelClinic-DEIC-small

I’m sure it’s familiar to anyone who is a professional educator or trainer, we’ve not invented anything new here – but  it does illustrate each core concept I believe is required to prepare, monitor, and motivate drivers to improve their driving habits.

There are many good driver education programs available (some are internationally certified like our DIA and IVV certified materials from EcoDrive$mart), and there are a variety of good on-board systems for collecting hard data about real-world driving performance (including in-cab cameras, GPS tracking, and ECU data loggers), but there aren’t many systems that combine them to facilitate a continuous cycle of measured improvement.

Taken individually, any one of these pieces can have a marked improvement on efficiency and safety. Combined into a system that supports the Driver Efficiency Improvement Cycle, and you have a system that maximises returns and maintains a high-level of driver awareness and performance. 

In November 2007 the International Transport Forum held a Workshop was held where sponsors from around the world presented the results of a variety of eco-driving training programs. Presentations at the Workshop quantified the impacts on both short-term and mid-term basis. 

Immediately after ecodriving training, average fuel economy improvements of between 5-15 percent on group level were recorded for cars, buses and trucks. The best results for individual drivers showed 20-50 percent improvements in fuel economy under test conditions. 

Over the mid-term (<3 years) presentations at the Workshop quantified fuel savings at around 5 percent on average in cases where there is no support beyond the initial training. In cases where there is continuous feedback, average fuel savings of 10 percent are feasible

Separate studies at Ford Motor Company and Isuzu indicate the average driver can attain closer to a 25 percent improvement in fuel mileage; and with continued training, feedback, and incentives – most drivers can can maintain these improvements over time.

Our prototype FuelClinic.com currently lacks real training resources, we have a list of 20 eco-driving tips that are available to members, but are not really taught and tested. Yet as a community of motorists, we have collectively improved our fuel efficiency about 6.5 percent – simply by monitoring our real fuel mileage.

Side note: It’s important to understand that this 6.5 percent figure is not 6.5 percent better than EPA estimates, but is a real improvement of 6.5 percent over members measured performance  baselines – meaning it’s actual driver efficiency improvement, measured against their own initial fuel-efficiency.    

Polk County, Florida fleet managers implemented a text-book example of the Driver Efficiency Improvement Cycle and is considered a case-study on how similar systems should work in the real world, motivating real people to accomplish real goals.



Polk County, FL to Reward Employees for Eco-Driving

Source: The Ledger
by Tom Palmer

The Polk County government’s yearlong fuel-saving campaign has done better than expected, and some of the savings will be going back into the pockets of the employees who helped make it happen.

“The employees have embraced this; the results are evident,” said Fleet Manager Bob Stanton. “I expected a 5 to 7 percent savings, but we had 11 percent.”

County officials launched the fuel-saving campaign in July 2008, when motorists were paying $4 per gallon at the pump and declining revenues were already forcing county officials to look for ways to cut costs.

At the time, County Manager Mike Herr estimated the program, which included measures such as keeping speeds to 55 mph and reducing unnecessary engine idling, could save $130,000 per year.

Stanton said the actual savings was $502,000.

He said he came up with that total by calculating the difference in fuel usage from the past year.

He said the bonuses, which could be as high as $300, will be distributed in October.

Those eligible will be any of the 150 employees – about 10 percent of the drivers of county fleet vehicles – who signed up for a training session last October and who complied with conditions such as bringing the vehicles in for regular service and not having any preventable accidents.

They also have to have achieved at least a 5 percent fuel savings, Stanton said.

At the time the fuel-saving campaign was announced, there was no mention of any bonuses for employees who complied with Herr’s directive.

Stanton said he came up with the incentive program along with the “eco-driving techniques” educational program, explaining he feels the incentive “guarantees a greater level of success” than simply ordering employees to change their practices.

Meanwhile, that is not the only step Stanton said he’s taken to reduce operating costs.

He said the county is buying smaller trucks. It has bought three electric-powered trucks and one propane-powered truck. That has resulted in savings.

Stanton said an electric truck costs 2 cents per mile to operate, compared with 18 cents per mile for a conventional truck.

He said the county will buy more energy-saving vehicles.

“Under the current budget, we aren’t buying any vehicles,” he said, but said that will change eventually.



Announcing “Eco-Driver On Board”

I’ve been working on the FuelClinic idea now for a few years. When talking to people about FuelClinic, I’ve found that many times I’ve put people into the “glazed eyes” trance when trying to explain what FuelClinic is, what is can do for them today, and what it will be in the near future. 

In an effort to explain our idea, to motivate new drivers, and to reduce the glazed-eyed stares – we’ve created a new animation to help explain what FuelClinic “for consumers” is all about. 

 

Learn more about eco-driving and how you can take control of your oil habit. Use FuelClinic.com to help monitor and manage your own oil consumption, find proven methods for improving your own efficiency in the car you already own, and join the thousands of people who have decided to do more with less. Save money, reduce foreign oil dependence, cut emissions – and improve the safety of yourself and the other drivers on the road.

While FuelClinic is quickly growing into something much bigger than it’s roots, we will always endeavor to provide consumers with the information, tools, and suggestions they need to monitor and improve their fuel efficiency while improving their personal safety, and the safety of those traveling the roads around them.



Five Ways to Save Gas Money Every Day

FuelCinic.com is more than just a website where you can track your fuel mileage – we’re starting a program to help educate drivers on how they can start saving money right away – using techniques that have been developed over the last several years. Some people call these techniques “thrifty driving” or “hypermiling” – but they are more commonly known as “eco-driving”.

Here are the 5 “golden” rules of eco-driving:

  1. Shift up as soon as possible
    Shift up between 2,000 and 2,500 RPM. If your vehicle has a powerful engine, many times you can shift up as low as 1,800 RPM. Up-shifting early maximizes your engines mechanical advantage and improves fuel mileage. Experiment with this technique in an area without traffic to learn how your particular car handles during early up-shifting. (Note: With a manual transmission, up-shifting much too early can cause stalling.)  
  2. Maintain a steady speed
    Use the highest gear possible and drive with low engine RPM. Avoid accellerating in cases where you’ll have to rapidly brake, such as stop-lights or stop-and-go traffic congestion. If you have an automatic transmission with an economy mode, make sure you use it. Avoid using “sport” mode.
  3. Anticipate traffic flow
    Look ahead as far as possible and anticipate the surrounding traffic patterns. Slow early if the cars ahead of you are braking or stopping. Allow tailgaters and aggressive drivers to pass you safely. 
  4. Maintain rolling momentum
    When you have to slow down or to stop, decelerate smoothly by releasing the accelerator in time, leaving the car in gear.  Many times a red light will turn green before you must stop completely. By maintaining some rolling momentum you will decrease the amount of fuel needed to accelerate back to the posted speed limit.
  5. Smooth is efficient
    If you follow rules 1 thru 4 you are well on your way to being a “smooth operator”. If you adopt these simple techniques, and combine them with an overall stress-free smooth driving style, you can slash your fuel consumption by 25% or more (some tests reflect 31% average). Discover what works for you. Leave a little sooner for appointments, let aggressive drivers pass, chill out with commercial-free music (iPod, satellite, CDs).  

Getting involved with your fuel efficiency is the key to making real improvements to your fuel mileage. Chances are that you can achieve near-hybrid MPG performance in the vehicle you already own. Tracking you MPG in real-time using an on-board instrument will show you exactly what works and what doesn’t. Tracking your mileage over time will help you understand the long-term benefits of fuel savings.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you additional information that will help you save gas money.



Why Conserve When Gas is Cheap?

November 20, 2008 · Filed Under Driver Performance, Eco-Driving, Energy Independence, FuelClinic · 1 Comment 

I’ve been fielding some questions lately from friends and relatives about the importance (and sensibility) of fuel conservation at a time when the price of oil is dipping below $50/bbl and a gallon of gasoline costs less than $2/gal.

It was just 4 short months ago that the gasoline seemed destined for $5+/gal, and the cost of a barrel of oil was sure to climb to over $200/bbl. American consumers are enjoying “cheap gas” again, and some are already questioning the painful lessons of the summer. (For the record, gas prices are still twice as high as ten years ago when a gallon of gas cost you right around $1/gal)

Here are my thoughts:

  1. This too shall pass. Oil prices will not remain low for very long unless there is a major shift in the way our transportation sector is powered.  Our dependency on oil is still nearly absolute, and there are major forces already acting to raise the price of oil.

    1. OPEC is cutting production by millions of barrels per day. In the past these kinds of cuts were successfully used to raise the price of oil world-wide. (I say “in the past”, read below…)

    2. Focusing too closely on the cost of fuel at the pumps today or in recent weeks ignores the inherent weaknesses in the capacity of our existing production, pipeline, refining and distribution systems. If consumers return to unbridled consumption, there is stil not enough capacity to meet that demand.

    3. Security experts have warned that one successful attack on major oil infrastructure can still have catastrophic effects on supply, which will immediately drive the costs to record highs.

  2. Improving fuel-efficiency appeals to a diverse group of people; including the penny-pinchers, environmentalists, and the national security hawks. The low cost of oil actually worries two out of the three, and the third is still feeling compelled to save.

    1. Environmentalists fear that cheap gas acts as a green-light to consumers to continue to buy gas-guzzling and CO2 belching SUV’s they don’t really need, and to slip back and continue wasteful consumption.

    2. National security hawks understand that the market is fragile and is still run by countries and organizations that openly wish to do us harm. Low-oil prices do hurt the war-chests of some state sponsors of terrorism and radicalized Islam, but these same players have enjoyed several years of record profits and have amassed enough fortune that they can wait-out any temporary drop in oil prices. We only reach security goals by replacing oil-based fuels with alternative sources of fuel and energy.

    3. And still the penny-pinchers need to save money. The economic trouble that exists alongside the cheap oil prices means that money is still tight, in spite of cheaper fuel.

  3. The real damage to our economy is not yet realized, and we’ll need to continue to conserve and produce alternative sources of energy just to survive.

Personally, I think that the oil cartel has overplayed their hand. I think world-wide consumer confidence is shattered, and there will be a period of suffering for oil producers as the rest of the world works to replace them.

I think more than anything, last summers outrageous jump in fuel costs was an education for Americans, that our system truly is out of control, and that it’s not sustainable. It was an expensive education, to be sure, but one that may pay dividends as we continue to conserve as we develop and implement replacement technologies and fuels to ween ourselves off the oil tit.



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