Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Oil Spill: The Urgency of Doing

We can boycott and punish BP for their crimes… and it is a crime. And on election day we can hold the government accountable for it’s dereliction of duty in this disaster, but the next set of derelicts we elect may be no better. In between we can day-dream of a future when all of our cars are electric and run on sunshine and windmills.

But time is short, and we can “do better” sooner. We can take meaningful action now, every day, starting today.

Leonardo da Vinci inspires me with this quote:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

We must do.

I day-dream about the impact of 3/4 million people waking up tomorrow, starting to work, and quietly deciding that today they will not compete with the other drivers on the road for position. Today they will not race to the next stoplight. Today they will try to maintain more distance in front of them to allow a little coasting before braking. Today they will move to the middle or the right on the highway and slow down 5 or 10 MPH. This week those people will go an additional 25 or 50 miles on a single tank of gas – possibly more, maybe enough to skip a fill-up for a day or two.

If all 750,000 squeezed another 50 miles from a full tank of gas this week, that’s 37,500,000 “carbon-free” miles traveled. At $0.12/mile avg. cost that’s $4.5 million dollars saved – ($6/ea) to be saved or spent elsewhere. Repeat that process each week, and you see it can add up to significant numbers very quickly. And that’s ONLY considering 750,000 people – imagine what would happen if each of them told two friends about what they are doing and impressed them to try.

It’s easy to do. You can track your personal per-tank mileage by setting your trip odometer at each fillup. If you want better data, keep your receipts and use a notepad, a spreadsheet, or a free website like FuelClinic to track your MPG over time, and look for ways to improve your score (see links below for additional techniques).

We all feel the urgency. We know what to do. The only questions is – are we willing? If you are willing, then you must DO.

Learn more fuel-efficient driving techniques here:

http://www.fuelclinic.com
http://www.ecodrivingusa.com
http://www.fueleconomy.gov

Video: Together We Are More Powerful Than Oil



Pensacola Beach – Before and After…

June 25, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Motivations · 3 Comments 

A few days ago I asked “The Big Oil Spill: Is it enough to change consumer behavior?” At the time most of the evidence of the scope of this disaster was still well hidden. Now it’s reaching a point where it can no longer be hidden, it’s rolling up on beaches everywhere, along with dead fish and birds.

People are taking photos, and sharing them online on pages like “Boycott BP” at Facebook (now with over 710,000 members). I took two images from one photographer (with permission to redistribute freely), cropped one to make the waterline match the other, and made this simple before-and-after .gif animation.

Photos courtesy of Diana Serden Stephens via Facebook – used with permission.
(If the animation isn’t working for you, click on the image to see it.)

So what do you say? Enough yet to convince you to try and reduce your oil consumption 10% to 20% by changing a few simple driving habits? It’s free.

More information here:

http://www.ecodrivingusa.com
http://www.fueleconomy.gov
http://www.drivingskillsforlife.com

Add your comments below, or at our Facebook page (click “Like” it once you get there).



Weaning America off of Middle Eastern oil is a four-decade long unkept presidential promise.



FleetOwner: Counting carbon bears careful watching

June 17, 2010 · Filed Under Commercial Fleets, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Reducing Emissions · Comment 

Source: FleetOwner Magazine

A new report on this issue by ATRI – dubbed “The Synthesis of Carbon Accounting Tools” – involved the collection and analysis of carbon models and formulas, and interviews with environmental assessment and reporting organizations.

According to the report, there is a growing need for data and model standardization and identified areas where inconsistencies in the quantification tools and models exist.

“For many motor carriers, the U.S. EPA SmartWay Partnership truck model is the most widely recognized tool for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tunnell. “This model calculates emissions generated from a company’s on-road vehicle fleet. However, an individual company’s carbon footprint encompasses more than just its on-road vehicle fleet.”

For example, quantifying the carbon emissions generated by office space and terminals, through metrics such as electricity use, could be misleading. “Although emission factors for the purchase of electricity are available for locations throughout the U.S., the greenhouse gas emissions generated from electricity purchased in one part of the country can be twice as high as the same amount of electricity purchased in another,” the report noted.



The Big Oil Spill: Is it enough to change consumer behavior?

June 10, 2010 · Filed Under Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, Motivations · 7 Comments 

I’ve been checking the ROV “spill cams” several times a day for a few weeks now. I think I need to stop. It’s too painful to watch and realize that 20″ diameter pipe is spilling enough oil and gas to be seen from space, and would cover an area from DC to New York.

Click to see live feed from BP

Searching for good news in all of this, I found a poll released about a month ago by a green-marketing firm The Shelton Group which indicates 1 in 5 consumers say they have decided to cut back on oil consumption due to the BP disaster in the Gulf.

May 6th: So when oil started gushing into the Gulf of Mexico we wondered:  is this tangible and real enough to make Americans adopt conservation behaviors?  Can we connect what’s happening in the sea now to our own demand for energy and daily consumption of it?  If so, will we change our ways?

…50% of Americans said they plan to do nothing in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  20% said they planned to reduce their gas consumption in light of the accident and 14% said they planned to reduce their consumption of plastic products and products sold in plastic containers.

I wonder if those numbers are any different today, after a month of “spill cams”, growing oil slicks, and news reports of repeated failures at estimating the flow.

Every poll I’ve seen indicates that “saving money” is always a key motivator for American consumers to make a “green” purchase. In these economically challenging times, it’s even more understandable.

What about an ecological disaster on a scale we’ve not seen before this close to home? Is it enough to motivate you to want to reduce your oil consumption?

Add your comments below, or at our Facebook page (click “Like” it once you get there).



Together We Are Stronger than Oil

June 8, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Eco-Driving, Motivations · 2 Comments 

I can assure you one thing about eco-driving – that it DOES work. Eco-driving is the only sure-fire way you can reduce your fuel consumption without altering your lifestyle (aka: stop driving, ride a bike, ride the bus, etc) or buying a more fuel efficient vehicle. And if you had the means to buy a more efficient vehicle, or even a hybrid, eco-driving will help you go further on less fuel in that car too. It works on any vehicle, and it works immediately – it will only require that you pay attention to your driving, and you relax.

Learn more about eco-driving here:



Controlling Fuel Costs “Key” for Fleets During Economic Recovery

Saving money on fuel is important for a family on a budget living in a mobile society where fuel prices continue to rise, taking a bigger and bigger bite out of an often shrinking monthly income.

Now consider that commercial fleet vehicles are driven further (on average twice as many miles per year), they have to drive to stay in business (not really an option to stop driving), and fleet size can range from less than a dozen vehicles to thousands. The “power of scale” creates HUGE incentives for companies to take control of their fuel spend and improve their fuel efficiency.

Fuel remains one of the most costly items on a fleet’s bottom line – typically ranked number two, right behind driver wages and benefits – so carriers are deploying an ever-widening variety of methodologies to keep fuel costs under tight control…

…During a presentation here at Manhattan Associates “Momentum 2010” user group meeting, Braslavsky and Nick Cook, vp & CIO for refrigerated carrier FFE Transportation, stressed that even tiny savings in fuel costs on a per-gallon basis can reap big savings for fleets.

CalArk, for example, operates 650 tractors and 2,000 trailers nationwide – consuming roughly one million gallons of diesel per month. Braslavsky said just saving one penny per gallon translates into $10,000 in savings per month on the company’s fuel bill….

…Such fuel and route optimization methodologies are going to become even more critical in the future, Braslavsky pointed out, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 program kicks in.

“There was a time when it was taken for granted that you could tell a driver to get there and he’d make it – those days are long gone,” he said. “Now we must be really, really creative with the time constraints put on our drivers – and better routing is the key to that.”

He also said new functionality such as actual loaded weight is being added in as well to allow for even more accurate fuel accounting. “We all know pulling 80,000 pounds consumes more fuel than pulling 45,000 pounds,” Braslavsky added. “The next level of optimization is going to take that into consideration.”

Source: Fleet Owner

“Eco-Driving” training should be a part of any fleet’s effort to save fuel costs, since saving 5% is generally considered the minimal savings a fleet can expect with a fairly minor effort. Fleets that are more determined to change company culture and commit to fuel efficient driving at all levels save 15% or more.

The most successful are those innovative fleet managers have incorporated employee-incentive programs to reward drivers who deliver measured fuel-efficiency improvement. Of course you need to be able to track and measure driver performance – what you can’t measure, you can’t manage – or reward.



“My name is Mike, and I help people save money…”

A few people who know me well have told me about a new Walmart ad that talks about Walmart’s recent work improving efficiency in fleet operations by packing trucks more efficiently and paying more attention to routing, all in an effort to rollback prices for customers.

The funny part (for my friends) is at the end when the driver stands by his truck and says “My name is Mike, and I help people save money…” It’s funny because my name is Mike too, and I’ve been helping people save even more money though better driving habits.

Back to the commercial. I think it’s great, and a sign of the times that the world’s largest retailer, with one of the largest fleets in the world, is spending millions to educate people to the benefits of efficient fleet operations. Fuel prices are on the rise again, and the importance of efficient fleet operations is more important than ever, as our economy continues to recover from it’s recent with no real change to our oil dependency.

I’m only disappointed that Mike doesn’t mention the incredible savings Walmart could be realizing through a comprehensive driver efficiency improvement program that includes eco-driving fundamentals.

Imagine what 5% of their fuel spend must be? With additional computer-based training and strong corporate buy-in, take that 5% number and triple it… that would be some sizable “rollback”. Maybe I should try to get in touch with them.



Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Economy still the Next Big Thing; Study: Fuel Costs Must Double; Biofuel-Fed A-10 Warthogs; Oil Prices Continue 2-month Climb

  • Still the next big thing: Fuel economy — “We’re all in a race again,” he said. “From the standpoint where we [as manufacturers] kept bringing out new products to meet emission targets, now we’ll be aggressively focusing on fuel economy.”
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  • Study: Fuel costs must (at least) double to reduce GHG emissions — The team concludes that the only way to change the status quo in America — to reduce GHGs 17% by 2020 — is to adopt a mix of stringent rules that substantially increase fuel costs and increase vehicle mileage. To do this, the Harvard study suggests starting with a $0.50 a gallon tax in year one and adding another half-buck tax a year until the tax reaches $3.36 per gallon in 2020.
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  • Air Force Debuts Biofuel-Guzzling Warthog — In a bid to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been looking to new energy alternatives. Under the Air Force’s current energy plan, the goal is to acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel from an alternative blend by 2016. Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said in a statement the goal was to encourage a major shift in the way the service powers its aircraft. “Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption,” he said.
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  • Oil rises above $84, extending 2-month rally — Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.


Should eco-driving be part of driver’s education?

As awareness of the benefits of eco-driving habits builds in the US and around the world, there is also a growing interest in incorporating eco-driving techniques in early drivers education courses.

Until recently, professional eco-driving training has been a specialty course provided to already-experienced drivers, often as a work-related program for professional fleet drivers in an effort to reduce company fuel expenses and reduce preventable accidents.

Several studies done in the last 10 years indicate a direct connection between efficient drivers and those drivers with fewer preventable accidents.

One internal study at a major US-based trucking company indicated that their top fuel-efficient drivers were squarely in the top percentile of drivers with the fewest preventable accidents. It was also found that their drivers who routinely drove in an inefficient manner were among those drivers with the greatest number of preventable accidents.

How are eco-drivers safer drivers?

By practicing eco-driving techniques motorists maintain a high level of awareness to traffic patterns and the flow of vehicles around and ahead of the driver, allowing the driver to plan to minimize the loss of momentum while operating their vehicle safely and efficiently.

Eco-driving motorists are encouraged to “de-couple” emotionally from the circumstances of normal traffic, focusing instead on a competition between “themselves and the gas pump” verses jockeying for position with other drivers around them.

By limiting the top-speed and maintaining generous following-distances eco-drivers give themselves extra time to react to unexpected changes, providing additional decision making time and a greater likelihood of maintaining control in evasive maneuvers.

This correlation between efficient driving and safe driving creates an opportunity to apply measurable indicators to driver safety.

In the past an individual driver’s skill and risk was measured by referring to DMV records to count number and severity of traffic citations,  or by referencing insurance records to measure the number and severity of traffic accidents on record. “Defensive driver” insurance discounts are provided to drivers who have had fewer accidents and fewer citation – without any real data to determine if the driver is truly driving in a safe and skilled manner – or has just been lucky.

With the advent of inexpensive on-board driver-behavior data-logging devices (like the CarChip Pro) we can build software systems (like FuelClinic) that are designed to analyse real-world driving behavior based on actual data. With the proper training and monitoring programs in place, this driving data can be processed in near-real-time with timely reporting in an on-going effort to improve both fuel efficiency and safety records.


(Click image to add your vote to this poll)

Several states are currently working to add eco-driving to drivers education, including Michigan and Florida, with RFPs seeking qualified training materials to be added to their existing driver training programs.

What do you think? Should eco-driving techniques be added to the existing driver’s ed program in your state? Comments are welcome below, or join the discussion over at our Facebook Community.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State

  • In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
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  • Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
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  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
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  • Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.


VIDEO: Eco-Driving Techniques

In Europe, eco-driving is fairly popular as a means to save money and reduce emissions. Fuel costs are much higher than here in the US – fuel is heavily taxed and the per-gallon cost equivalent is $6 to $8 per gallon.

In Europe fuel is usually sold by the Liter and the standard of fuel economy is “Liters per 100 kilometers”, or “L/100km”. It’s an opposite system from of our MPG rating – where a higher MPG (“more miles per gallon”) is better, in Europe the opposite is true – the fewer liters per 100 kilometers (“L/100KM”) the better… so the lower the fuel economy rating you’ll hear in this video, the better.

The EU has decided to partner with Europia, an energy-giant in the EU, to continue to make motorists aware of the benefits of using eco-driving techniques.

We invite all motorists to start using FuelClinic.com to track their mileage using our easy online tools. FuelClinic is built to accommodate a variety of standards of measure, including MPG and L/100km, and a variety of currencies and other local preferences.



Gas Prices Steadily Climb Again – What Have We Done To Stop It?

Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.


Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.

It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)

What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?

1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.

2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.

3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.

4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.

5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.

In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.

What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?



Dublin City Council is asking all drivers to reduce their carbon footprint by three per cent.

January 21, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Eco-Driving, Reducing Emissions, Technology · Comment 

About the Eco-Friendly Driving Campaign

Dublin City Council, in partnership with Codema, Dublin’s sustainable energy agency, is asking all drivers to reduce their carbon footprint by three per cent. This eco-friendly driving campaign is part of the MINUS 3% project, which aims to reduce Dublin City Council’s energy use by 33 per cent by 2020.

Dublin City Council has more than 900 vehicles on the streets of Dublin every day. Nearly all of these vehicles are diesel engines that are serviced regularly to keep them in tip-top condition. While all of these vehicles are needed to do the work of the Council, they create a lot of carbon emissions. However, good driving habits that incorporate smooth and safe driving techniques help to reduce these emissions while also delivering benefits in terms of road safety and savings in fuel consumption.

With the help of our professional drivers, adopting more eco-friendly driving habits will save 280 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent to 74,000 litres of fuel or €90,000, based on current fuel prices.

Dublin City Council is also running Occupational Driving Training Courses for all our drivers which include the principles of eco-friendly driving. This part of the course passes on tips to our drivers as to how to use their vehicles as efficiently as possible and we know that we can depend on our drivers to achieve the target of a 3 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint. You may also have noticed the eco-driving posters in your depots to further reinforce the messages of this campaign.

I’ve encouraged the Dublin City Council to utilize our free FuelClinic.com software presently available online to help them measure the success with this program.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hard to recoup on EV; DOE grants for fuel efficiency programs; Gasoline zips to $3 again; Diesel fuel spike causing trucking trouble

  • Study: Buyers unlikely to recoup extra cost of electric vehicles — As automakers aggressively pursue electric vehicles, a study released today shows the cost targets behind the plans are unlikely to be achieved, making it hard for consumers to recoup the extra cost of buying electric.
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  • Massive DOE grant program aims to boost truck fuel economy — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spreading $187 million in grants around the truck manufacturing industry to significantly improve fuel efficiency for heavy- and light-duty trucks, all while maintaining current exhaust emission curbs. “Improving the fuel efficiency of heavy trucks can make significant contributions to reducing America’s oil consumption within a short timeframe,” DOE spokesperson Jen Stutsman told FleetOwner. “While heavy-duty vehicles make up only 4% of the vehicles on the road, they account for nearly 20% of the fuel consumed in the U.S.”
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  • Gasoline prices zip toward $3 mark — Gasoline prices on Monday continued their push toward $3 per gallon. The only question now is when? Prices have been jumping on the back of a strong oil market where the cost for a barrel has spiked 20 percent in the past month on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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  • Trucks at Work Blog – Containing fuel costs — Diesel fuel prices are on a tear all of a sudden – not surprising, given the recent deep freeze across the U.S. Diesel, as we all know, is made from the same petroleum distillate as home heating oil, so when the temperature plummets (like it’s doing now), refineries start cranking out more heating oil at the expense of diesel. Thus, you get a crimp in supply even as demand remains the same – thus, a shortage, and thus (tah-dah!) price increases at the pump.


87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus – But you still can’t buy one in the U.S.

Source: Independent.ie

PUTTING economy driving into practise was the aim of a group of drivers who took part in a Wexford to Dublin charity challenge. The Charity Eco-Drive Challenge was won by a driver who achieved a fuel economy figure of 87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style.

Organised in December by Ger Boland and Enda Newport from Ford dealer Boland’s of Ferrybank, Wexford, the Charity Eco-Drive Challenge saw six drivers tasked with driving from Wexford to Dublin (Stillorgan Park Hotel) and back to Wexford using as little fuel as possible.

Each driver’s fuel consumption was analysed and from the six drivers, Michael Forde of Curracloe, Co Wexford, came out on top with the most economic result of 87 mpg for the round trip. Among the six participants, the range of fuel consumption figures achieved went from Michael’s 87 mpg to 64 mpg.

To ensure fair play, each of the six participants drove the same route in identical Focus 1.6 TDCi models of the same age and similar mileage. The winning driver was given the option of nominating a charity to receive a donation of €1,000. Michael nominated the Wexford Women’s Refuge to receive an early Christmas present.

Speaking about his strategy for the challenge, Michael Forde said: “I wasn’t too concerned about maintaining a steady speed, the secret to eco-driving is engine revs.

“So long as I could keep the engine revs in the range of approximately 1500 to 1800, I knew that I would end up with a very respectable fuel consumption figure.”

Michael also highlighted tyre pressure as being another important element: “Most motorists don’t realise it but incorrect pressure settings mean more fuel used.”

The Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style with alloy wheels, air conditioning, fog lights and Bluetooth, is available for around €21,750.

Once again a modern factory-built diesel-powered automobile has achieved astonishing fuel efficiency numbers in a driving competition. This isn’t futuristic technology that is “just around the corner” or “not yet cost effective”, these are current versions of diesel-powered cars that roll off of assembly lines in other parts of the world every day – and are affordable to ordinary people.

So, why are we in the US not yet able to buy these ultra-efficient little diesel-powered cars (Ford Focus ECOnic, Mini-D) that are “old news” in other parts of the world (as of 2007 about 50% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines) and then choose to run them on modern bio-diesel fuels that are slowly coming to market?

Embracing modern diesel engine technology also avoids the chicken-and-egg problem that other alternative fuels suffer from… US-based drivers can fuel their zippy and efficient little diesel-powered cars and light trucks, easily getting better than 60 MPG every day on petroleum-based diesel, then get even “greener” when the bio-varieties gain investment and availability (thanks to the greater number of vehicles on the road that can consume their products).

Or you can brew your own bio-diesel – or buy from a local bio-diesel producer – more on that later…

AS an aside, Rudolph Diesel, the man who invented the engine design that still bears his name “was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Diesel’s inventions have three points in common: they relate to heat transfer by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor’s concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with industry.”

Diesel was a brilliant inventor and understood exactly how competitive his engine would become, but did he realize that the industries his engine would “threaten” a hundred years later would be the oil industry and the tax man?



Introducing CarChip Pro w/ Eco-Driving Profile to FuelClinic Users

One of the most interesting things about “eco-driving” is that you can actually measure your progress and see the results of your efforts. FuelClinic allows you to track your overall MPG and related metrics over time, but it takes at least two receipts in order to establish your baseline, and then many more receipts over time to see if your mileage is improving or not. This is great because it’s simple, low-tech, and maybe best of all – it’s free.

But what if you wanted to dig deeper into your driving habits, to see exactly how you are driving vs. how you think you are driving. Maybe you need a little bit of help remembering to drive efficiently, some “virtual eco-driving coaching” along the way. Maybe you wanted to be able to “check in” on your inexperienced teenage driver to see that he or she is driving safely, or check to determine if your employees are doing what they can to drive efficiently and lower your fuel costs.

What is required is an interactive data-logger. There are several gadgets on the market, or soon-to-be released to the market. We’ve spent the last several months evaluating many of these devices for integration with our certified eco-driving training course using the reporting capabilities of FuelClinic, and have found several that seem very promising.

One of our top criteria is that the device not become a distraction to the driver, that it didn’t require the driver take his/her eyes off the road to look at a display or other indicators. Instead we looked for devices that gave simple auditory cues to remind the driver when his/her driving behavior exceeded pre-defined thresholds, and one that allowed the user or fleet manager to determine for themselves what “Eco-Driving Profile” to attempt to achieve.

I believe one in particular hits a sweet spot between cost, capability, ease of use, and integration potential. It’s called the CarChip Pro (and CarChip Fleet Pro for commercial use) manufactured in the USA by Davis Instruments. We’ve been testing several of the units for over a month now and have been getting feedback from professional driving school and fleet owners. Response was very positive, so I have decided to start selling these devices on the website.

CarChip-Pro-8226-Clamshell

CarChip Pro is a portable device that requires no extra wires or batteries (a USB cable is all that is needed to download the data to your computer), is installed in just a few seconds into the OBDII port that is standard on most cars since 1996, and can be moved from vehicle to vehicle easily. I’m working on a new section for FuelClinic that will provide all of the details about CarChip Pro, along with guidence on how to set-up an “Eco-Driving Profile” using the software provided with the unit.

I’m really excited about the CarChip Pro – Davis Instruments has been making the CarChip line of data loggers for nearly a decade, they are small, reliable, and have already been installed in tens of thousands of vehicles. The CarChip Pro is also one of the least expensive interactive data loggers on the market – with no monthly cellular fees or required contracts, making it attractive to parents, consumers, driving school owners, and small business fleet owners (there is also a commercial Fleet version with additional capabilities including a WIFI wireless data-download option and GPS data logging).

Stay tuned for more information about the CarChip Pro and how you can order yours (with a special discount) here at FuelClinic.



Fuelishness! Feed: Saving Money Motiviate Drivers; Oil & Gas Not Prepared for Risk; New Drilling Tech vs. Peak Oil; Doubts about 2016 Efficiency Goals

  • Money proves biggest motivator for a motorist’s eco-driving choices — When it comes to fuel efficiency, saving money trumps saving the environment for most people who have recently bought – or are thinking of buying – a new vehicle.
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  • Oil and Gas at Risk From Climate Change but The Industry is Not Prepared — A new Acclimatise report backed by IBM, entitled Global Oil & Gas – The Adaptation Challenge has identified top five impacts of climate change to the oil and gas industry. While three quarters of the world’s oil and gas companies surveyed believe climate change could impact their business, only 19 percent are taking action as noted in this Acclimatise report.
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  • New Techniques Oil Companies are Using in Drilling for Oil — As the politics and philosophical arguments about “Peak Oil” continue to rage, science continues to move steadily onward, progressively creating new and better ways to both find and extract oil that we never could have previously discovered, as well as get a lot more bang for our buck by more effectively utilizing the oil that we currently have readily available to us in our current reserves.
    .
  • Fuel efficiency up, but many miles to go — EPA report shows small gains in ’08, casts doubts on meeting 2016 goals — Americans bought slightly more efficient cars and trucks in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and are expected to do so again this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.


Believe Sustainability is the first member in South America of the Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Partnership

November 26, 2009 · Filed Under Community, FuelClinic, Motivations, Reducing Emissions, South America · Comment 

Source: Believe Sustainability

The current discussion on fighting climate change brings a clear need for reductions on greenhouse gases emissions caused by transportation. Transport related CO2 emissions are expected to increase 57% worldwide in the period 2005 – 2030, being 80 percent caused by transportation in developing countries. This is directly linked to an overall lack of sustainability represented by poor urban planning, increased motorization, increased air pollution and noise, growing congestion and decreasing road safety.

It is in this context that Believe Sustainability has become the newest member of Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Partnership, aiming to expand its projects on sustainable mobility worldwide.

SLoCaT Partnership is an international organization hosted by the UN Department of Economy and Social Affairs together with development banks and international agencies. It intends to provide opportunities for coordination and cooperation among organizations working on sustainable, low carbon transport.

Believe Sustainability SLoCaT Partnership has a multi-stakeholder membership of more than 40 organizations, among universities, governmental agencies, institutes and NGOs. To promote the partnership, members must demonstrate commitment towards sustainable mobility and low-carbon transportation, and promote the discussion at the regional, national and global level. Thus, Believe Sustainability, an organization located in Brazil that develops consulting on sustainable mobility and creator of the BetterAir Project http://www.projetomelhorar.com.br, comes in great time to join the Partnership, emphasizing the importance of the subject on developing countries in South America.

Center for Science and Environment (CSE)

Center for Transportation and Logistics Studies (PUSTRAL), Gadjah Mada University

Civic Exchange (CE)

EMBARQ, The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport

Global Environmental Facility (GEF)

Global Transport Knowledge Partnership (gTKP)

Interface for Cycling Expertise (I-CE)

International Union of Railways (UIC)

International Transport Forum (ITF)

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

Institute for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS)

Institute of Transport Studies (ITS), University of California, Davis

Korean Transport Institute (KOTI)

Ministry of Land Infrastructure Transport and Tourism, Japan

National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS), Philippines

Rockefeller Foundation

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

University College of London, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomtaic Engineering

University of Transport and Communication (UTCC) Hanoi

VEOLIA Transport

WWF International



Help Me Caption This Image – Win a $50 Gas Card (CLOSED)

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED… WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY

I’m constantly looking for ways to quickly and succinctly describe the goals and objectives of FuelClinic to people who are not yet familiar with our concepts.

I’ve had an idea for a few months kicking around in the back of my mind for a graphic that shows a schematic-like “common” car illustration with a “smart” or “green” driver behind the wheel. I’ve managed to kludge together a quick mock-up, that roughly illustrates my idea:

you-are-the-key-draft

Now I need help with the caption… I struggled with a few like the one you see above, as well as others like “Key To Efficient Driving Exists Between the Seat and Steering Wheel” … you get the idea, but I think we can do better.

So, I’m asking you to submit your suggestions for a great caption to this illustration – one that is creative, catchy and most clearly describes the positive effect of improved driving habits in helping create safer, smarter, more efficient drivers.

Add your suggestions in the comments section of this post. Use your real email address so we can track back to you if your caption is selected. I along with a small group of judges will choose a winner from the suggestions we get. I will send a $50 gas card to the person who submits the winning caption for this illustration and your caption will be used in the final version of this image on our website and in some marketing material.

UPDATE: We will be picking a winner from all entries on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 — winner to be announced on Monday, December 7, 2009



How to ensure people’s transportation and at the same time be sustainable?

by Lincoln Pavia, The MelhorAr Project 
 
The better that the economy of a country is, the greater the demand will be for transportation and the larger the impact will be on the public transportation service and the emission of CO2, with obvious repercussions on the traffic of towns and cities.
 
The MelhorAr (Improve Air) Project of Sustainable Mobility arose from the need to develop a culture concerned with managing the demand for mobility in a sustainable manner in order to reduce the use of individual transportation,  responsible for 70% of the occupation of the earth and for the problems arising from this option such as pollution and investments in modal infrastructure, as well as to discuss alternative, more sustainable means for cities.
 
Evaluating the current models of mobility of the large global urban centers, the  MelhorAr Project opted to develop projects focusing on the corporate market,  responsible for a large part of the transportation in cities, both of workers and of the distribution of consumer goods. This work model is unique throughout the world, as most consultancies perform with governments.
 
Nowadays the projects of sustainable mobility are still for the public sector, especially in Europe, where the main focus is on modal integration (interconnection between modes of transport) as a means of encouraging people to walk or cycle in order to reduce the pressure on public transportation. In developing countries where a large part of the population does not earn enough to use public transportation, the option for these cases is to get about on foot. However, to the extent that the economy becomes stronger in developing countries, these people end up opting for individual means of transport, as a large part of the public transportation does not cater efficiently for this new public of the layers D and E. Moreover, the most serious problem is the nonexistence of modal connections, so that people travel most of their route using a single mode. The challenge now in our country is to increase the options of collective means of travel without burdening towns and cities with works of infrastructure and investments in transportation which increase the social, economic and environmental impacts. In developed countries (G8), people usually choose to displacement by car, increasing pollution and affecting the quality of life of the population. Making life unbearable in the city.
 
 
 The most urgent challenge is to execute an inventory count of the emissions of public and private collective transportation. It is true that while most emissions come from individual means of transport, the automotive industry is already investing millions of dollars in building more economical, hybrid and electrical models and adapting their engines to cleaner fuels, although the traffic will continue to increase. In the collective transportation sector, we do not yet have an inventory count of emissions of the journeys made. The Public Sector will have to do its homework executing an inventory count of its fleet of buses, trains subway trains, etc. The metropolitan train and subway companies will be increasing their capacity of attending to the public by increasing their networks, which will generate a greater emission of CO2 as the Brazilian and others countries generation of power depends upon thermoelectric stations. The pertinent question is how much power will these increases require?  Countries has the capacity to build hydroelectric and thermoelectric stations, but will they be sufficient to cover the demand of new consumers, electric cars, collective electrical transportation?
 
How will the private sector of collective transportation be able to complement this demand with a quick, cheap, more efficient and sustainable public transportation?

Read more



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.



Congratulations to iCarpool for winning the ITS Congestion Challenge

The much anticipated announcement was made earlier today at the 16th World Congress on ITS , and online at the ITSA website.

STOCKHOLM – 23 Sept. 2009: The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners announced the results of the ITS Congestion Challenge, a global competition to find the best ideas for reducing traffic congestion.

The three organizations announced the selection of iCarpool.com at the 16th World Congress on ITS in Stockholm. iCarpool.com, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, won the competition among more than 116 entries from 20 countries. The organization will receive a cash investment of $50,000 USD, which will be used for further development of its solution.

For more info on the ITS Congestion Challenge and the other finalists please see the full Press Release – PDF

We here at FuelClinic would like to say “Well done!” and congratulations to iCarpool on their 1st place finish.

Read the entire press release (pdf).



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.



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